October PAC: Outdoor Fires and Fire Safety

The meeting was called to order at 6:10 by Dorothy Bode, Board Member.  19 people in attendance.

Our speaker was Casidy Anderson, Community Risk-Reduction Coordinator of the Minneapolis Fire Dept.

While we planned on “Fire Safety and Prevention” for our October topic a long time ago, one of our regular PAC attenders brought up a concern about a back yard fire near her home which was in a dangerous place and still going after 10PM.  The responding MFD staff said they would put out any fire that violated City Ordinances, but could not cite the neighbors who were lighting the fires.   We asked Casidy to speak directly on this issue.

In the meantime, we also asked Housing Inspector (and former Fire Safety Inspector) Mike Rumppe for additional information.  Ms Anderson spent much of the time discussing The Minneapolis Fire Code and explaining how to get help from the city to bring neighbors into compliance.

Recreational fires are covered in Minneapolis Ordinance 178 “Recreational Fires”:

Summary: recreational fire fuel area may not exceed 3′ wide X 2′ high, may not be sited within 25′ of combustible material including fences,  must be surrounded by a fire barrier at least 6″ tall, may only burn untreated wood or other approved material, must be attended at all times by at least one adult (over 18) who can operate extinguishing tools (hose, buckets, extinguishers), are only  allowed between 9AM and 10 PM if the prevailing wind is 10MPH or less.  There will be no fires if the MN Pollution Control Agency has issued a health advisory.   Any member of the MFD or MPD may extinguish any fire that violates any of the above or that creates a  “reasonably objectionable situation for any nearby resident.”

QUESTION: I don’t like it when smoke comes in my house, so is that covered?  ANSWER:  That would be a “reasonably objectionable situation for any nearby resident.”  Think about asking them to at least warn you so you can close your windows or moving their fire site to another part of their yard.
Cassidy pointed out that many Minneapolis residential lots are only 50′ wide and mostly filled up with by house and garage/shed, etc.  There isn’t much left over.  The 25′ mandated distance eliminates many fires.

Getting the city involved:  Ms Anderson said she wishes the Fire Department could issue citations, but that belongs to Regulatory (Inspection) Services which is a totally independent of the Fire Department.   She checked with  Fire Marshal Bryan Tyner, who confirmed that the verified procedure for filing a complaint is:

  1. Call 911 to report the illegal burn (this creates a formal record of the incident)
  2. Follow up with 311 to have Fire Inspection Services (under Regulatory Services) start the process of warning letter, and fines
  3. Chief Tyner also sends out warning letters, so you could email him directly about your concerns
  4. Make sure your crime prevention specialists, Nick Juarez and Susan Webb are aware so they can follow through on their end.

Inspector Rumppe wrote that a 311 complaint will trigger a warning letter sent to the property owner by Fire Inspection Services.  A second offense verified by MFD in the same calendar year yields an $80 fine for the person responsible for the fire.  If this is a rental property, the owner receives a $200 administrative citation.

Deb Russell (Hennepin County Attorney’s Office) reported that her responsibilities include prosecuting Nuisance Property issues.  She looks for patterns of complaints and will follow up with a letter to the property owner.  She considers two calls/year on the same  property sufficient cause for close attention by Hennepin County Attorney’s office.

Ms Anderson brought two other items to the meeting.  First is a very good 76-page pamphlet from the National Fire Protection Association, Fire in your home.  You can get  your own copy by contacting Ms Anderson at casidy.anderson@minneapolismn.gov  The NFPA has a website that offers a great deal of information, books, and more.  See www.nfpa.org

Finally, Ms Anderson left us with a flyer about getting a free smoke alarm, installed in your home.  The Free Smoke Alarm Program is open to all with no restrictions  The Free Smoke Alarm project is a partnership between the Red Cross, the Minneapolis Fire and Rescue Dept. and CERT,  the Community Emergency Response Team.  To get your free alarm, you may register for the appointment at 612.460.3674 or online: www.getasmokealarm.org

State of the Precinct:  There was no SOTP report this month, due to  city employee holiday.  Second Precinct reports can be found here:

COURTWATCH:  Active cases: Cody Corbin, 5th degree drug possession is now “On Diversion” and 4th degree property damage has a pre-trial hearing 11/9. Jerome Darkow has an arraignment on 10/25 and has a probation violation.  Kevin Foster was found incompetent to stand trial so his misdemeanors  will be dismissed but this might lead to civil commitment for treatment.  Daniel Heacock has a hearing in February.  Jarid Jovanovich currently in custody in Anoka County where he will have a pretrial mid October; his Hennepin case is on hold until his Anoka case in completed.  Dae Nisell was found incompetent but his felony charges stay active and will be referenced for 6 months.  Ryan Pilarski has a bench warrant for failure to appear on 8/01/16.  Michael Weston-Rose has had a bench warrant for over a year.  Ashley Sage has a hearing  at the end of the month for two open felony cases (drug charge and burglary charge and has a probation violation. Robert Schroeder js on probation.

No Updates:  Johnny Bernard Hall, Bryan Holmes is continuing on probation,  Curtis Laroque has an outstanding bench warrant issued 06/21/16.  Albert Moen is on probation to 5/9/17 with no updates. Robert Schroeder is on probation until 5/17/16 on condition no trespassing and to stay away from victim’s residence.  Jason Tucker will be out in November.  James Zaccardi and Michael Zaccardi have no updates but will remain on the watch list for one more month.

Removed:  Osman Amin.

PAC REPORTS:  Minutes were accepted. Emilie reported that no money had been spent and the cash on hand is the same as last month.

OLD Business: none.
NEW BUSINESS: the December 24 dinner notes and suggestions will be ready for the November meeting.  Dorothy Bode suggested we have our first planning meeting immediately after November PAC, 11-14-16, so moved, seconded, accepted.

Two new program suggestions came up:  Minneapolis Animal Control, and Transit Police.

Adjourn 7:20.

Future programs:  Nov. 14, “What To Do Before the EMT’s Arrive” presentation by Casidy Anderson.  December 12: will include a report on December 24 progress.

Proposed future presentations:  1) Chief Harteau’s new training program, “Life Matters”.  2) New MPD Cold cases program.  3) Support services of victims of sexual abuse. 4) Minneapolis Animal Control. 5) Metro Transit Police.


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