In our burning ordinance code, the term nuisance has been used in many ways. For the purpose of the Nappanee Fire Department dealing with approved type fires as described above, the term nuisance is not defined as a person that just does not like approved burning. If a complaint comes into dispatch, the complaint should be asked if the fire is causing them problems, or if the call is purely a concerned citizen that has noticed smoke from an unknown source. Once the source is identified, if it is an approved fire, they may continue and the officer should make contact with the complainant in person or by phone to thank them and let them know it was an approved fire.
If the complaint states that the fire/smoke is causing them problems, upon arriving, the officer should first determine if the fire is approved or not.
If it is not an approved fire, then it should be extinguished by the company or the person in charge of the fire. The person in charge of the fire is to be given a copy of the burning ordinance and that person’s name, and pertinent contact information is to be included in the report.
If it is an approved fire, the officer can then observe the scene and decide if the conditions truly pose a nuisance for the complainant, for example a large amount of smoke heading directly into the home or outside activity of the complainant.
If there is mostly complete combustion and little to no smoke being emitted, or if the smoke is obviously not going the direction of the complaint and therefore not posing a real nuisance to the complainant, the approved burning may continue.
The officer should make contact with the complainant to ensure he/she has the complete story. The complainant also needs to be aware of the local rules regulating approved files. Many citizens are not aware.
A common complaint has been that someone may have an unusual sensitivity to smoke. According to our City code, it is not a nuisance if the smoke does not threaten the health of a person with ordinary sensibilities.