The Rutherford County Commission joined with several municipalities Friday to ban burning of any kind in the area due to extremely hot and dry weather conditions that have resulted in multiple fires in recent days.
Mayor Senna Mosley (right) watches as Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kimbrough signs a ban on open burning and fireworks June 29 at city hall in La Vergne. (Photo submitted)
The County Commission voted unanimously to give Chief Larry Farley of the Rutherford County Fire-Rescue Department permanent authority to issue the ban, which immediately went into effect.
“The dry conditions and lack of rain has created a very dangerous environment for grass and forest fires,” Farley said, noting firefighters have already battled large brush fires caused by open burning in the Fosterville and Blackman communities within the past week.
“I am very concerned about the number of fires that could occur because of this weather,” Farley said. “People need to take this situation seriously.”
Although the County Commission does not have the authority to ban fireworks, unlike municipalities, Farley urged residents to abstain from using any during the Fourth of July holiday.
“County residents are urged not to shoot fireworks of any type,” he said, noting people who do not live in unincorporated areas are required to adhere to any bans issued by municipalities in Rutherford County.
Several commissioners echoed Farley’s sentiments, noting the weather has created a dire situation.
“You could cause a death with this extreme heat,” Commissioner Robert Peay Jr. (Dist. 4) said. “Please refrain from shooting fireworks this Fourth of July.”
A few hours after the County Commission passed the resolution, the city of La Vergne announced a ban on fireworks until further notice, effective immediately.
“We have several densely populated neighborhoods,” La Vergne Mayor Senna Mosley said. “Because it is like a tinder box outside, one careless bottle rocket could cause serious harm and damage. Our only goal in this matter is the safety and well-being of La Vergne (residents) and emergency personnel.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a ban being enacted in the town of Smyrna, in addition to the already existing law in the city of Murfreesboro.
Interim Fire Marshal Rick McCormick and Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kimbrough, the designee of Chief James Gafford, issued the order to ban lighting fireworks within the city.
Police Chief Mike Walker said that law enforcement will issue citations for violations of the ban, but he warned that life-threatening calls would take priority.
“Although we are slowly building our police force to allow for quick response time for all calls, we do have to prioritize calls based on specific situations happening throughout our city,” Walker said.
In light of the ban, La Vergne officials encouraged residents to attend the annual Patriotic Picnic in the Park celebration, scheduled from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park. The event, which is free and open to the public, will also include a play area for children.
“The firework show at Veterans Memorial Park is operated by a professional pyrotechnics company,” Mosley said. “Additionally, it will be a controlled show because we will have numerous fire trucks on the scene standing by to protect people and property.”