Texas Burn Ban
I had to call the police tonight.
Not something I was planning on for my Saturday night, not at all. Seems almost like a stupid, silly mistake, but the potential results could have been devastating. That's why there's codes and law upon law and additional precautions even added - we have had such a bad drought in our area that even using barbeque grills in your backyard in at least one county is illegal at the moment.
Some idiot neighbor of mine at my apartment complex was grilling with a charcoal BBQ grill on his balcony.
I told you, it seems like a silly mistake. But it's at least a $2000 fine. Could be even more right now because of the burn bans that are in effect over most of Texas. What makes it worse, though, is the city law here has been in effect for over 10 years and is a similar law throughout most Texas cities - absolutely no grilling on your apartment balcony; and any grills must be at least 10 feet away from any building structures. That's the law.
Now, the apartment complex does have to have tenants sign in their lease agreement that they have been informed of this regulation. And I remember signing it when I renewed my lease this past November because this same neighbor had been grilling on his balcony several times over the summer. I didn't say anything to him then, but I did tell the apartment office when I was there picking up some mail that one of my neighbors was occasionally grilling on his balcony. At that time I was informed that it was illegal and that there should be a sign posted on our balcony stating so. And that was something I'd seen at all of my previous apartment residences. I'd hoped that the apartment office would send out flyers complex-wide reminding all tenants about this law and if they didn't have a sticker, to let the office know so one could be posted. Simple, right?
There's no sign posted on my balcony. Still. I told them that at the office again today, when I was there to pick up my mail (my new dvd burner, yay!). I also asked them what I should do the next time I saw somebody grilling on their balcony or patio. Needless to say, this person wasn't the only idiot I'd seen grilling lately. They told me not to confront the tenant, but to call the police.
So tonight, when I saw my neighbor grilling, the flames leaping up out of the grill, and smelled the burning, I did. I called the police.
I felt bad. That's alot of money to have to pay for a stupid mistake. But you know what? This is the same idiot that during Christmas week when I was taking out my garbage one evening, I saw him grilling on his balcony...the smoke rising up into the apartment above him (he's on the second floor). So, I asked him, "Is that a grill?" He said, "Yes." And told me that he was grilling something for the company lunch at work the next day. I said, "Did you know that it's against the law to grill on your balcony? That it could be a $2000 fine?" He said, "No way!" Didn't know it at all. Had not had any trouble in the months that he'd been doing so. I told him to talk to the apartment office if he had any questions about it. And left him at it.
I told the police that it wasn't an emergency (I didn't call 911, but rather the listed number in the phone book), but that one of my neighbors was grilling on his balcony and that since there were so many burn bans in effect, I needed to know who to talk to about it and what I needed to do. They connected me with the fire department. And they came over.
They were glad that I called.
Maybe if I hadn't had the apartment complex burn down one street over because some idiot set off fireworks...maybe if a couple of years ago, I wouldn't have woken up to smoke in my bedroom because of the fire at another tenant's apartment unit only 10 feet away from my own home - caused by his neglected grill that set his own balcony on fire...maybe then I wouldn't have been so anxious and determined about calling to report this violation. I don't know.
Another house burned down today. It was caused by their neighbor grilling in his own backyard. The grass and then the fence caught fire. And a family lost their home.