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EPD Burn Ban Lifted

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Burn Ban Lifted

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) open burning ban was in effect for 47 Georgia counties, including Walton Co., from May 1 through September 30.

All outdoor burning of natural vegetative materials is considered open burning and requires a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC).

You can obtain one by calling or going online. To learn more about open burning in your county call your local GFC office.

Primary: 1-877-OK2-BURN (+1 877-652-2876)

Apply for a permit online at www.gatrees.org

For more information:  https://epd.georgia.gov/air-protection-branch/open-burning-rules-georgia/summer-open-burning-ban

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Fire Department ISO Class 2 Rating Goes into Effect Today

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The City of Social Circle is proud to announce that the Fire Department has received an ISO (Insurance Services Office) Class 2 public protection classification, effective May 1, 2020.

ISO is a third party independent agency that evaluates the fire department, water department and communications systems. It rates the results on a national scale from one to ten (one being the best and highest). According to ISO, its Public Protection Classification Program (PPC) plays an important role in the underwriting process with insurance companies. Most U.S. insurers report that the PPC information is used in their decision-making process when deciding what business to cover, what coverages to offer or prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance. With a communities Class 2 rating, many insurance providers give a discount on annual insurance premiums for residences and businesses. Residents and business owners should check with your insurance companies to see how this new classification affects you.

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Summer Burn Ban Starts Today

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Georgia EPD Open Burning Ban Begins May 1, 2020 for dozens of Georgia Counties. Beginning May 1 and ending September 30, EPD’s open burning ban will be in effect for many Georgia counties, including Walton.

The open burning ban is not new. It began in 1996 in the metro Atlanta area and expanded to include other Georgia counties in subsequent years. The open burning ban prohibits citizens and business from burning yard and land-clearing debris. This rule is in addition to the year-round state ban on the burning of household garbage. People, particularly children, are more apt to be outdoors during May through September. It is during this time that ozone and particle pollution are generally higher than the other parts of the year. Some actions, such as campfires and agricultural activities, are exempt from this ban.

If you have questions, please contact firechief@socialcirclega.gov.

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Local Business Makes PPE Donation

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Mannington Mills’ facility in Madison, Georgia, has been making more than just floors these days. In collaboration with Klöckner Pentaplast, the entire site is engaged in making and assembling protective face masks to donate to healthcare and law enforcement around the country. Today Donna Parker with Mannington Mills donated 20 face shields to protect our staff.

We thank you for your generous donation!

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City ISO Rating Makes Large Improvement

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The Social Circle Fire Department completed their Public Protection Classification (PPC) survey analyzing the structural fire suppression delivery system provided by the City. The rating improved from 4 to 2 since the last review, six years ago. The ISO PPC rating influences prices and coverages set by insurance companies on personal and commercial property insurance.

The classification review by the ISO representative focuses on three main areas:

1) Emergency communications (emergency dispatch center) (10%)

2) Water supply systems (the amount of water necessary for fire suppression) (40%)

3) The fire department itself (equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies, operational considerations, and community risk reduction) (50%)

ISO PPC scores range from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best rating. Approximately 20 Fire Departments in Georgia have achieved a 1 rating. A 2 rating places the City of Social Circle among the top 3% of Fire Departments evaluated nationwide. Locally, the Cities of Loganville and Covington have a 2 ISO rating, and the City of Monroe has an ISO rating of 3.

The recent 2.5% water utility rate increases on City water service supported the completion of over $2M in improvements to the water system over the last two years, which contributed significantly to this City-wide rating improvement. Additional improvements which contributed to the improved ISO rating include: Fire Safety programs which have been implemented recently, such as Fire Safety inspections; the construction of Fire Station 17 on Willow Springs Church Road, which reduced response time to the industrial sector of high risk buildings; new sprinkler systems in some of the large industrial buildings; the continuation of an in-city Fire Training facility, now located behind Station 17; the increase in fire staffing to four persons per shift. For information on how this rating may reduce your homeowners insurance cost, please contact your insurance agent. For further information about Fire Safety within the City, contact Chief Zaydel at 770-464-0621.

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Burn Ban Lifted; Permits Required

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The temporary ban on all outdoor burning ends today. Georgia Forestry will begin issuing burn permits starting today on a day-by-day basis depending on weather conditions. Burn permits are required for outdoor burning of natural vegetation such as hand piled leafs and limbs and can be obtained at 877-OK2-BURN or online at gatrees.org. Permits must be obtained prior to burning.

Campfires and cooking fires are exempt and do not require a permit.

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Temporary Ban on All Outdoor Burning

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In response to recent dry weather and drought conditions, the Social Circle Fire Department has instituted a temporary ban inside the city limits on outdoor burning. Beginning October 2, leaves, pine straw, and other yard debris may not be burned until the ban is lifted. The ban is expected to be lifted once significant rainfall is received. Notification will be sent out when burning may resume. The GA Forestry Commission has temporarily stopped issuing burn permits in Walton County until further notice. This ban includes ALL burning, including burning exempted from burn permits such as bonfires.

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High Fire Danger Impacts Outdoor Burning

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Though burning leaf piles and campfires are hallmarks of fall, Georgia's current drought is impacting decisions to burn outdoors. The Georgia Forestry Commission is urging everyone to follow established procedures and exercise extreme caution when using fire outside.

"There's a five step fire danger system used nationally, and right now Georgia is in the four and five categories, indicating very high fire danger," said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells. "The decision to burn must be made on specific weather criteria in each location, and because safety is always our top concern, burn permitting may be restricted based on the fire danger forecast."

Burn permits issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission are required for any outdoor burning in the state to help prevent wildfires and problems generated by smoke. In 54 counties, primarily in north Georgia, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division sets annual summer burning restrictions to reduce emissions from ground level ozone that may jeopardize air quality. Those restrictions are set to be lifted on Tuesday, October 1.

"The GFC will resume issuing burn permits on a day to day basis, following our established fire danger and smoke management procedures, in those counties which have been under the EPD Burn Ban since May first," said Sorrells. “We recognize the importance of and promote prescribed burning for the many wildfire prevention, forest management and agriculture benefits it provides. However, right now we're asking everyone to be extremely vigilant when doing any open burning, including burning yard debris.”

Wildfire activity is on the rise statewide, according to Sorrells. Over the past three months, Georgia Forestry Commission wildland firefighters have responded to 41 percent more fires than its previous five-year average. Sorrells said escaped debris burns are the number one cause of wildfires in our state, and it may be necessary and wise to delay or postpone open burning if local conditions are unfavorable. The GFC recommends those who burn keep tools on hand such as water, a shovel and a cell phone.

"Never hesitate to call 911, and never leave your fire unattended” Sorrells said.

The 54 counties whose EPD summer burn bans are being lifted are: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.

For specific information about conducting open burning, permitting requirements and current fire conditions in your area, contact your county's GFC office or visit GaTrees.org.

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