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Scituate cracks down on Fourth of July bonfires

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  June 23, 2011 09:02 AM

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Scituate is attempting to increase safety this Fourth of July by requiring permits for all bonfires.

According to a release on the town’s website, “all [non-permitted] bonfires are illegal and will be torn down and extinguished.”

Permits will be issued from 10 a.m. next Monday, June 27, until 4 p.m. on July 1 at Scituate Fire Headquarters, and will be issued only for the evening of July 3.

Permit holders must be required to not only set up and ignite their bonfires, but also clean up the debris.

Police will inspect all bonfires prior to them being lit. In addition, building a bonfire cannot begin prior to 5 p.m. on July 3. A permit can be revoked without notice due to changes in weather conditions, or wind speed.

Applicants must have proof of residence, be at least 18 years old, provide a telephone number if the police deem the bonfire a safety hazard, and pay $100 per bonfire to cover the cost of site inspection and follow-up inspection.

According to the release, the applicant “will be responsible for any damage to personal property, individual injuries, or costs incurred by the fire department to extinguish…should it get out of control, become larger than permitted, or for failure to fully extinguish the bonfire.”

It’s all in an effort to prevent incidents like the one experienced by Marshfield last year, when a licensed firework buyer decided to host an unpermitted display, injuring a few people in the process.

According to Scituate Fire Chief Richard Judge, residents became worried that excessive bonfires in the coastal community during Independence Day weekend would result in a similar fate.

The new measure is intended to curb problems as well as help police monitor and punish those who don’t follow permitting guidelines.

“It’s getting out of control in the Scituate park, so we’re trying to regulate it better than we have been,” Judge said. “We’re going down full force this year and trying to make it safe.”

According to Judge, state fire marshals were horrified when they came down to the community last year to monitor safety on the beaches.

Because other surrounding communities have since cracked down on fireworks and bonfires, Judge said Scituate was essentially “the only game in town,” and as such, although the evening was spectacular to watch, it was by no means safe.

“You’re going to have to get a lot of bodies down there, monitor when they’re building them, keep the size down, far away from structures on the beach front, and crack down on the fireworks, too,” Judge said. “We’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun, we’re just trying to make it safer.”

Residents with remaining questions should contact the Scituate Fire Prevention office, at 781-545-8748.

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