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Scituate's bonfire regulations deemed a success

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 11, 2011 02:37 PM

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Chief Richard Judge stands at Scituate's fourth of July festivities with Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi after a successful night of bonfire monitoring.

With a relatively tame start to July, Scituate Fire Department officials said new regulations on the town's traditional summer bonfires have been a big success.

“It went very well,” said Fire Chief Richard Judge. “People did what they were supposed to do - most of them. There were some who didn’t want to follow the rules, but we straightened them out.”

This year was the first time Scituate imposed regulations on bonfires, which had previously gotten out of hand. .

State officials were horrified when they came to inspect Scituate’s festivities on previous July 3 incidents, Judge said, and residents were continually concerned about the size and strength of some fires.

However this year, applicants were required to be residents of the town, be at least 18 years or older, and pay $100 per bonfire to cover the cost of site inspection and follow up.

Permit holders were also required to clean up any debris left by the fire.

The fact that the regulations put a name and bestowed responsibility to permit holders was enough to dissuade rowdy applicants from requesting permission for a fire.

“People realize that they are responsible for their fire now. It made a few people decide not to have bonfires. They think, ‘Hey, a lot can happen,’ and yeah, that’s why we were worried about it,” Judge said.

One person was taken to the hospital from July 3 festivities, Judge said, though it was unrelated to the bonfires. There were some scuffles between teenagers, and a box truck of fireworks was confiscated from one festival attendant, however majority of the night was calm, Judge said.

Overall, residents were happy with the outcome of the regulations.

“People thought it was a great idea to tune down the third of July. Make it a family event, make it safer than it has been in the past,” Judge said.

The weather forecast also helped keep things tame, Judge said. With the threat of thunderstorms on the horizon, majority of people didn’t bother to break the rules.

Next year, Judge said the town will keep the same regulations.

“I think we’ll stick to the same program that we did this year,” he said. “You have to get a permit of the bonfire, there are regulations of the size, 10 by 10 feet … but this year, the wind never switched and all those houses were kept safe off the beach.”

To read the regulations on bonfires, click here.

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