Checking in with the Chief – FIre Department Chief David Soar

It’s never a bad time to check in with the local fire department and see what’s the hot news (oh, all right, no bad puns, I promise). The Weston Owl caught up with Fire Department Chief David Soar in his full half-second break between his three roles in town: Fire Chief, Director of the Weston Emergency Management Team, and Forest Warden.

Chief Soar on the scene at a December fire near Town Hall

Forest Warden News

It’s going to be a dry year, according to the Farmers Almanac, and with that news, it behooves the great citizens of Weston to be careful when firing up the fire pit. Here are some guidelines to think about while managing your home fire pit–by Massachusetts law, a fire pit is used only for a “recreational” or “cooking” purposes (not, in other words, for escaping bulky waste fees):

  1. Fires should be small and manageable, no greater than 3 feet in diameter. By definition, a fire larger than 3 feet in diameter is no longer considered a cooking or recreational fire.
  2. All fires must be constantly attended.
  3. A fire extinguisher, garden hose, or water bucket should be available for quick extinguishment if necessary.
  4. Fires should not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible materials.
  5. The fire pit should be placed on a flat, noncombustible surface. An area of 25 feet should be cleared around the fire pit in all directions, and clear of all dry vegetation and combustibles. Make sure the fire pit is placed away from other materials that could burn or catch fire, both overhead and to the sides such as building components, tree limbs, sheds, awnings, etc.
  6. Fire pits and recreational fires ARE NOT INCINERATORS. The burning of trash, rubbish, painted or stained wood and construction debris is prohibited by the Department of Environmental Protection.
  7. Do not cause a nuisance or health hazard to your neighbors. Never use wet or damp wood. This creates needless, irritating smoke. Always use dry seasoned wood, charcoal, or specialist fuel (e.g. wood burning briquettes).
  8. Never use an accelerant to light any fire. There have been many cases of people getting burned while trying to light a fire with a “small amount” of gasoline.

If you light a forest on fire, you will not only have the Forest Warden annoyed, but the great goshawk of Conservation land will find you. It will happen.

bonfire on fire pit

Having said all that, it’s Open Burn Season (January 15 to May 1). If this is the method you choose to get rid of all that brush in your own yard, you must have a permit, which you can apply for here. Note that burning is not your only option, and that Leaftopia, aka the Brush Dump on Merriam Street, will open on April 21, 2021 and be open for four Saturdays. You must have a recycle or transfer station pass to use Leaftopia. For more information, see the wonderful town website.

Emergency Management Director News

While numbers are going down in general, masks and physical distancing are key to keeping people safe. The public schools are going to pooled testing next week, but all town residents may still get Covid testing done by the fire department. For information, or to register, please check the Fire Department page.

Residents are also reminded to sign up for WestonAlerts, the official emergency notification system used by the Town of Weston and Weston Public Schools so Town Officials can quickly communicate with residents during emergencies. You can find out how to register for that here.

Fire Chief News

Things are fortunately pretty quiet on the fire department side–well, if quiet means the usual call-outs that add up to 2,500 or so each year. An injured cross country skier was pulled out of Cat Rock in February by UTV. This preceded the police rescue of dogs and their owner from the pond there last weekend. As an aside, the Owl is concerned about the inherent dangers of nature. Fortunately, Weston has an amazing public safety crew.

New truck news!! The fire department turned in its order for Weston’s new ambulance, which was approved at last Town Meeting. The ambulance is set to arrive by July and the Wes-TEN has already offered to help park it.

While not “new news”, residents should also remember that the Fire Department has a lock box program that allows quick and safe entry for emergency personnel to your house should it be necessary. You can get more information here.

In addition, Fire Chief Soar mentioned that the department is looking at some houses that are slated for demolition so that they can train in them.  Many editorial comments spring to the Owl’s mind but all of them will be tamped down in a bid to be an objective news source. If you are about to demo your house, you can always give the Fire Department a call and see if they want to torch and train in it.

Did you know?

Did you know that all 33 firefighters including the deputy and the Chief are EMT-trained? We’re in good hands, Weston.


Residents may recall that Fire Chief Soar sat down with the Wes-TEN in December, and since then, the town has been obsessed with the rumor of an impending Fire dog, cat or gecko. Watch the Owl (who will be watching you, Weston) for the upcoming announcement of the fire department mascot (no, it’s not a wildcat).

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