Information about Prescribed Burns in NJ

From the NJ DEP

The New Jersey State Forest Fire Service advises residents that its seasonal prescribed burning program – which reduces wildfire risks by burning away the buildup of undergrowth, fallen trees and branches, leaves, pine needles and other debris on forest floors – is underway. Residents are advised that they may see large plumes of smoke in areas where these controlled burns are being conducted.

Prescribed burns will take place through the end of March, conditions permitting. These burns are generally conducted during the winter – especially toward the late-winter months – to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires.

“Prescribed burning is an important tool in keeping our forests and other wildlands safe and healthy,” said Bill Edwards, Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. “These burns are conducted only under exacting conditions by highly trained personnel. By burning them away now, we can reduce the risk of these materials serving as tinder for wildfires later in the year. This practice also improves the overall ecological health of our forests and grasslands.”

The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry will provide as much notice as possible of prescribed burns through its Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/newjerseyforests. The public may also contact the State Forest Fire Service at (609) 292-2977 about the prescribed burning program and where burns are expected to be conducted. When in doubt about the source of smoke or fire, call 9-1-1 or 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337).

The peak wildfire season in New Jersey typically begins in middle to late March and runs through late spring, when the weather tends to be dry, windy and warmer. This also is the time of year when forest canopies and undergrowth have yet to leaf out, making forest debris more susceptible to the drying effects of wind and sunshine.

Because of the types of trees and shrubs it supports, the sprawling Pinelands region of southern New Jersey is particularly susceptible to wildfires and is typically the focus of much of the prescribed burning activity conducted by the Forest Fire Service.

During prescribed burns, Forest Fire Service personnel use hand-held torches to set smaller fires to burn away fallen leaves, pine needles, fallen branches and other debris on the forest floor. The personnel take into account wind, moisture and other conditions. These prescribed fires do not reach the forest canopy or cause significant loss of mature trees as wildfires do.

While the annual burning program began late last year, the Forest Fire Service is entering peak season for controlled burns. The Forest Fire Service expects to burn between 10,000 and 20,000 acres of forests and grasslands this season, depending on weather conditions. Most burns take place on state-owned property, such as state forests, parks and wildlife management areas.

“Prescribed burning has been a successful wildland fire mitigation tool used by the Forest Fire Service since the 1920s, protecting property, lives and infrastructure by creating defensible space around developed areas and strategic fire breaks that help the Forest Fire Service quickly contain wildfires,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources.

In 2016, the Forest Fire Service responded to 1,065 wildfires, 75 percent of which were a quarter-acre or smaller. The largest was a 464-acre fire in Bass River State Forest in Burlington County.

Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists traveling through these areas are advised to observe posted reduced speed limits and to be alert to the presence of trucks and Forest Fire Service personnel. During the burns, firefighters employ best management practices to control smoke impacts, but nearby residents and forest visitors should expect temporary smoke.

For more information on wildfires in New Jersey, steps you can take to protect your property and other resources, visit: www.njwildfire.org. For more information on New Jersey’s Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategies, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/docs/NJFSassessment.pdf.

Storm info from JCP&L

From JCP&L:

JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report any downed wires to the company, or their local police and fire department.  Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.  Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris.  To report downed wires or power outages, call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877), or click the “Report Outage” link at www.firstenergycorp.com.

At JCP&L we’re providing more ways for our customers to report outages and check the progress of our efforts to restore service. We’re the first electric utility in New Jersey to offer outage reporting on our Facebook page. Now JCP&L customers have four easy options:
* Visit facebook.com/JCPandL and click the “Report an Outage” tab
* Sign up for text messaging with us and text “OUT” from your mobile phone
* Visit our 24/7 Power Center on www.jcp-l.com using a smartphone, tablet or laptop
* Call 1-888-LIGHTSS
To learn more visit www.jcp-l.com/connect

Meeting Feb. 9th on Master Plan Amendment for Highlands Conformance

On Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 pm, the Chester Borough Land Use Board will be meeting to discuss the Master Plan Amendment for Highlands Plan Conformance. The meeting will take place at the Chester Borough Municipal Building, 50 North Rd., Chester NJ. 
The public is invited to attend. The meeting agenda and associated documents can be found at the following link:

Taxes due February 1st

Taxes are due February 1st with a grace period until February 10th. Please have payment to the Tax Collector’s Office by that date as we don’t accept postmarks. If you have already paid your taxes, thank you.

For your convenience, we have installed a secured lock box at the front entrance for after hours payments.

Borough and Township to Share Police Services

Chester Borough Mayor Janet Hoven and Chester Township Mayor William Cogger signed an agreement on December 20th, 2016 whereby the Township will provide all police service for the Borough.  The six Borough officers will become employees of the Township.  This agreement will go into effect on January 1, 2017.  To read the agreement, please go to the end of this article for the link.

As of January 1, 2017, The Chester Borough Police & The Chester Township Police Department will become The Chester Police Department. There will be no disruption of services and we will continue to provide the highest level of dedication to all residents of Chester. As of March 1st, 2017, the non-emergency phone number, 908-879-5626, for The Chester Borough Police Department will no longer be operational. This number will be forwarded to The Chester Police Department until that date.

If you are a resident or business in Chester Borough and have a Home Security Monitoring or Medical Alert system, please notify your security company of the phone number change.  The non-emergency phone number for The Chester Police Department is (908)-879-5514.  If you have an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

Click here to read the agreement.

Openings on Chester Borough Commissions

Chester Borough has openings on the following committees / commissions. Open to Chester Borough residents only.

Shade Tree Commission
Board of Health
Library
Water Resources and Sewer
Environmental/Open Space

If you are interested in serving on any of these committees, please contact Mayor Hoven at jhoven@chesterborough.org

There are also openings on the Recreation Commission. If you are interested, please contact Recreation@ChesterBorough.org

Gas Safety Tips from PSE&G

With the arrival of frigid weather, PSE&G offers tips to help you stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, stay warm and save energy.

For safety’s sake: remember that carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, tasteless and can be deadly. CO poisoning is more common in cold weather when fuel-heating appliances are in use.

  • The first line of defense against CO poisoning is to make sure all fuel-burning appliances operate correctly and are maintained properly. These appliances include furnaces, water heaters, ranges, space heaters, and clothes dryers. Improperly vented fireplaces and charcoal grills can also give off CO. Never use ovens or clothes dryers to heat the house.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors. CO alarms can provide an early warning before CO builds up to a dangerous level. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing a carbon monoxide alarm in every area of your house or business. If just one alarm is installed, it should be placed near the sleeping areas of the house. Check the batteries regularly.
  • Do not allow vehicles, snow blowers or any gasoline-powered engine to idle in a garage, basement or any enclosed space. CO can drift into the living space and create a hazardous situation.
  • Be prepared: In your mobile phone, program the emergency service line of your natural gas provider. PSE&G’s emergency service line is 1-800-880-PSEG (7734).
  • If you think high levels of CO are in your home or business: Go outside! If there is a medical emergency, such as someone falling unconscious, get the person outside to fresh air and call 911. Then call PSE&G’s emergency service line. Wait outside, or go to a neighbor’s home, until help arrives.
  • Symptoms of poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Symptoms can occur immediately or gradually after long-term exposure. People who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing any of these warning signs. It affects people of all ages, but infants and children are even more susceptible than adults.

Stay warm and save energy:

  • Lower your thermostat by just one degree, which may reduce your heating bill by up to 3 percent. Save even more by lowering your thermostat 2 degrees during the day when you are home, and 5 to 10 degrees when you are away and at bedtime, if health conditions permit.
  • Change thermostat batteries once a year, or when the low battery indicator appears on the digital display.
  • Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
  • Move furniture and drapes away from heating registers, radiators, and baseboard element covers. Open any register or baseboard dampers.
  • Open your curtains and blinds that face the sun on sunny days to warm your home, and close them at night to keep the warm air inside.
  • Use weather stripping or caulk to seal up cracks and prevent drafts in windows and doorframes. Beneath doors, install draft guards available at hardware stores.
  • Visit PSE&G’s Home Energy Toolkit at pseg.com/toolkit. You can calculate the energy efficiency of your home and find out how to save energy and money on appliances and heating systems.

DEP safety tips on burning wood

DEP OFFERS TIPS ON REDUCING POLLUTANTS AND SAFETY THREATS FROM BURNING OF WOOD DURING COLDER MONTHS

TRENTON – With colder weather and the holidays approaching, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin reminds residents to practice safety and take steps to reduce the impact burning of wood has on air quality in their homes and neighborhoods.

“Burning of wood – whether in fireplaces, wood stoves, or outdoor wood boilers – can help reduce energy costs and add a cozy ambience to any home as the weather turns colder,” said Commissioner Martin. “But wood burning also emits small particles and other air pollutants that can be significantly reduced with some common-sense practices, better protecting your health as well as your neighbors’ health and creating the climate for a safer and more enjoyable season.” For some people, even short-term exposure to wood smoke can aggravate lung or heart conditions. Children, teen-agers, older adults and people with lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, or heart conditions are most susceptible to the effects of wood smoke.

The DEP recommends following these guidelines for burning wood at home:

  • Allow wood to season before burning it. Seasoning means allowing the wood to sit outdoors for at least six months. Seasoning allows moisture to evaporate from the wood, making it burn more efficiently Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.
  • Use a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of wood. Wood burns most efficiently when its moisture content is below 20 percent.
  • Stack wood neatly off the ground with the top covered to protect the wood from rain and snow. Store wood that is to be used in the house a safe distance from fireplaces or stoves.
  • Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling and keep them burning hot.
  • Regularly remove ashes to ensure proper airflow.
  • Never burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, wrapping materials, painted materials or pressure-treated wood in your stove or fireplace.
  • Keep anything flammable – including drapes, furniture, newspapers and books – far away from any wood-burning appliance. Keep an accessible and recently inspected fire extinguisher.
  • Have chimneys cleaned annually by a certified chimney-sweep. Nearly seven percent of homes fires are caused by the buildup of creosote in the chimney. These fires can spread extremely rapidly, and are often signaled by flames leaping from the chimney or a low rumbling sound reminiscent of a freight train or airplane.
  • Consider using an indoor air HEPA filter in the same room as a stove or fireplace. These filters can reduce indoor particle pollution by as much as 60 percent.
  • State regulations and some municipal ordinances prohibit the emission of visible smoke from outdoor wood boilers. Wood boilers heat a fluid that is circulated in homes and buildings for heating purposes. Under state regulations, these boilers may only emit visible smoke for three minutes every half-hour to allow for start-up.

If you plan on burning wood as a major way to heat your home this winter, the DEP recommends upgrading to a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. The newer equipment will reduce air pollution and is much more energy efficient.

For more information on wood burning in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/baqp/woodburning.html

For more on the EPA’s Burnwise program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/