Title 10 V.S.A.
CHAPTER 83. DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS & RECREATION
FOREST FIRE LAWS
§2603. POWERS AND DUTIES: COMMISSIONER
- The Department shall be under the direction and supervision of a commissioner appointed by the secretary as provided in section 2851 of Title 3. In addition to the duties and powers provided under this chapter, the commissioner shall have the powers and duties specified in section 2852 of Title 3 and such additional duties as may be assigned to him by the secretary under section 2853 of Title 3. He shall implement the policy and purposes specified in section 2601 of this title where appropriate and to the extent that resources of the department permit.
- The commissioner shall manage and plan for the use of publicly-owned forests and park lands in order to implement the policy and purpose of this chapter, promote and protect the natural, productive, and recreational values of such lands, and provide for multiple-uses of the lands in the public interests. He may sell forest products and other resources on public lands and shall administer the state park systems and a community recreation program as is in the best interests of the state and is consistent with the purposes and policies of this chapter.
- The commissioner, subject to the direction and approval of the secretary, shall promulgate and publish regulations in the name of the agency for the use of state forests or park lands, including reasonable fees or charges for the use of the lands, roads, camping sites, buildings, and other facilities and for the harvesting of timber or removal of minerals or other resources from such lands.
- The commissioner or his designee shall be the state fire warden and may act as, and in place of, the fire warden of any municipality as provided under subchapter 4 of this chapter.
SUBCHAPTER 4. FOREST FIRES & FIRE PREVENTION
§2641. FIRE WARDENS, APPOINTMENT AND REMOVAL
- Upon approval by the Selectboard and acceptance by the appointee, the commissioner shall appoint a town forest fire warden for a term of five years or until a successor is appointed. The warden may be removed for cause at any time by the commissioner with the approval of the Selectboard. A warden shall comply with training requirements established by the commissioner by rule.
- The commissioner may appoint a forest fire warden for an unorganized town or gore, who shall hold office until he resigns or is removed for cause. He shall have the same powers and duties as town forest fire wardens.
- When there are woodlands within the limits of a city or incorporated village, the chief of the fire department of such city or village shall act as city or village fire warden with all the powers and duties of town forest fire wardens.
- When the commissioner deems it difficult in any municipality for one warden to take charge of protecting the entire municipality from forest fires, he may appoint one or more deputy forest fire wardens. Such wardens under the direction of the fire warden shall have the same powers, duties, and pay and make the same reports through the fire warden to the commissioner as forest fire wardens.
- The commissioner may appoint special forest fire wardens who shall hold office during the tenure of the commissioner. Such fire wardens shall have the same powers and duties throughout the state as town forest fire wardens, except that all expenses and charges incurred on account of their official acts shall be paid from the appropriations for the department.
§2642. SALARY AND COMPENSATION OF FIRE WARDENS
- The salary of a town fire warden shall be determined by the Selectboard for time spent in the performance of the duties of this office, which shall be paid by the town. He shall also receive from the town the sum of fifteen cents for each fire permit issued. In addition thereto, he shall receive from the commissioner $20.00 annually for properly making out and submitting reports of fires in his district and keeping the required state records. He shall also receive from the commissioner $15.00 per diem for attendance at each training meeting called by the commissioner.
- The pay of a warden of an unorganized town or gore and his assistants, including patrolmen, and all expenses incurred by him in extinguishing forest fires, as provided for by the commissioner, including employment of a person to assist him, on the approval of the commissioner, shall be paid by the estate from the monies annually available from taxes in the unorganized town and gore, and the commissioner of finance shall issue his warrant therefore.
- A person employed by a warden to assist him in extinguishing a forest fire as authorized under section 2644 of this title, shall be paid at the same rate per hour as is paid for labor upon highways. A minimum of two hours pay for the first hour or any portion therefore shall be allowed persons who are officially summoned to assist in the extinguishments of forest fires. When a warden employs men in extinguishing a fire in a municipality adjoining his own, the expense incurred shall be paid by the municipality in which the work was done at the rate of pay prevailing in the municipality where the laborers reside. A municipality wherein such warden resides shall forthwith pay him and his assistant for their services and the municipality may recover the expense thereof in an action of contract on this status from the municipality where the work was done.
§2643. TOWN’S LIABILITY FOR EXTINGUISHING FOREST FIRES; STATE AID
- For the purpose of extinguishing forest fires, a town shall not be held liable in any one year for an amount greater than ten percent of its grand list.
- The state shall reimburse a town for its forest fire suppression costs in excess of ten percent of its grand list and for one-half its forest fire suppression costs up to and including ten percent of its grand list when the bills are presented to the commissioner by December 31 of each year with proper vouchers and in a form approved by him.
§2644. DUTIES AND POWERS OF FIRE WARDEN
- When a forest fire or fire threatening a forest is discovered in his town, the warden shall enter upon any premises and take measures for its prompt control and extinguishments. He may call upon any person for assistance. He may arrest without warrant any person found in the act of violating a provision of law or proclamation pertaining to forest fires.
- A warden shall keep a record of his acts, the amount of expenses incurred, the number of fires and causes, the areas burned over, and the character and amount of damages done in his jurisdiction. Within two weeks after the discovery of such a fire, he shall report the same to the commissioner on forms which shall be furnished by him, but the making of such report shall not be a charge against the town.
- During the danger season and subject to the approval or direction of the commissioner, a warden shall establish a patrol in dangerous localities, and the expense for the same shall be paid as expenses for fighting fires. Wardens shall receive the same pay for time spent in posting notices, patrolling or in making investigations of damages done that they receive for time spent in actual fire fighting.
§2645. OPEN BURNING; PERMITS
- Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not kindle or authorize another to kindle a fire in the open air for the purpose of burning weeds, grass, or rubbish of any kind except where there is snow on the site, without first obtaining permission from the fire warden or deputy warden of the town, stating when and where such fire may be kindled. Whenever such permission is granted, such warden, within 12 hours, shall issue a written for record purposes stating when and where such fire may be kindled. Permission shall not be required for the kindling of a fire in a location which is 200 feet or more from any woodland, timberland, or field containing dry grass or other flammable plant material contiguous to woodland. With the written approval of the secretary, during periods of extreme fire hazard, the commissioner may notify town fire wardens that for a specified period no burning permits shall be issued. The wardens shall issue no permits during the specified period.
- Whenever the commissioner deems that the public safety of any town or portion of a town of this state does not require the protection provided by this section, he may cause the town fire warden of any such town to post notices to that effect in not less than five conspicuous places in such town.
- The provisions of this section will not apply:
- to areas posted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section;
- to fires built in stone arches at state recreational areas;
- to fires built in special containers used for burning brush, waste, grass, or rubbish when conditions are deemed satisfactory to the town fire warden; or to areas within cities or villages maintaining a fire department.
§2646. PROCLAMATION BY GOVERNOR PROHIBITING KINDLING OF FIRES: CLOSING OF WOODLANDS
- Whenever it appears to the governor that there is excessive danger of forest fires, he may prohibit by proclamation the kindling of a fire in or adjoining forest and or close any or all sections of woodland, or brush land, in any town for such time as he may designate, to all persons except the owner and his household, his tenants, servants, or agents and persons in the public employment engaged in abating such fire-hazardous condition.
- Proclamations shall be published in such newspapers of the state and posted in such places and in such manner as the governor may order in writing. A copy of such publication and order, attested by the secretary of civil and military affairs, shall be filed with the secretary of state and a like copy shall be furnished to the commissioner who shall attend to the publication and posting thereof. The expenses of such publication and posting shall be paid by the department. Notice of removal of restrictions imposed by proclamation shall be in the same manner.
§2647. FIRES IN WOODS OF ANOTHER; PERMISSION
- No one shall build a fire in the woodlands of another without the permission of the owner, lessee, holder of right-of-way or his authorized agent between April 1 and November 1. A person who builds a fire in or adjoining any woods shall totally extinguish such fire before leaving it.
§2648. SLASH REMOVAL
- A person may cut or cause to be cut forest growth only if all slash adjoining the right-of-way of any public highway, or the boundary lines of woodlots owned by adjoining property owners, is treated as follows:
- All slash shall be removed for a distance of 50 feet from the right-of-way of any public highway or from the boundary lines of woodlots owned by adjoining property owners.
- All slash shall be removed for a distance of 100 feet from standing buildings on adjoining property.
- Owners or operators of timber or woodlots shall leave the main logging roads through cut-over areas free from slash so that tractors may pass over these roads unobstructed in order to carry men and supplies and fire fighting equipment to fire suppression crews.
- If in the opinion of the town fire warden there is no fire hazard as a result of a cutting, he may issue, upon request, a statement relieving the operator of the conditions required in this section. – Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), §1.