By Larry Southard
Oracle Fire Chief
During the past 10 years, the Oracle Fire Department has been managing the Oracle Brush Disposal Site as a way for Oracle residents to easily dispose of flammable yard clippings and dead trees. Over the years we’ve encountered numerous items that simply do not belong in piles of brush that will eventually be burned. When people dump such things as household garbage, old lumber products, construction debris and other non-allowable items (clearly posted at the entrance gate) they cause our firefighters to have to dig through the piles, collect garbage items and then dispose of them in the fire department dumpster.
In the past we have occasionally gotten such large items that we’ve had to haul loads of garbage and other waste materials to the Oracle Transfer Station operated by Waste Management Corp. Although our staff tries to regulate what gets brought into the brush site, occasionally people abuse the rules by dumping things that clearly don’t belong there. A few of the offenders have been permanently banned from using the brush disposal site and for the past couple of years garbage has not been much of an issue.
Recently an alert citizen reported to us that bullets were seen lying in the dirt along with the brush. My firefighters then had to do a search for those bullets and hopefully they were able to find all of them.
The on-duty crew returned to the fire station with around 30 live rounds of ammunition that ranged from small 9mm, to .45 caliber, to assault rifle rounds, to large hunting rifle bullets. All of these items were unspent live rounds of ammunition that could have the potential of injuring firefighters during our next brush burn.
Although an exploding bullet during a fire, has a much different and generally lessor reaction than a bullet secured inside of a rifle chamber, they can still be hazardous to anyone in the near vicinity.
Burning huge piles of brush presents us with a number of hazardous conditions, including smoke & embers, heat exposure, desert critters, etc. Extinguishing such a large fire requires a great deal of physical energy including getting right in with the ashes and turning over the unburnt material. It’s extremely hot, dirty and physically demanding work…and now our firefighters have to be concerned about live ammunition exploding when they are working the burning piles.
Please help us to manage and to continue this important community program by being careful about what is in your load of brush.