DALLAS (Aug. 24, 2012)—The Dallas Marshal's office is stepping up enforcement of outdoor tire display and scrap tire handling regulations in and around Dallas in an effort to help slow the spread of the West Nile Virus, the mosquito-borne disease that has claimed the lives of 41 people so far in 2012, including 19 in Texas.
The agency's efforts are aimed at reducing potential mosquito breeding grounds because tires filled with rain water make an ideal nesting area for mosquito nymphs, according to Dallas Marshal Deputy Chief Paul Hansen.
In an Aug. 22 press briefing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Texas is one of five states—the others being Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota—that have produced about 75 percent of the reported 1,100-plus West Nile cases in the U.S. this year. More than half of those cases, 537, have come from Texas alone.
Hansen said a city ordinance makes it illegal for any scrap tire generators to display or store tires outside.
According to Hansen, officials with the Marshal's office visited 25 shops the week of Aug. 20 to check for proper documentation and permits and to search for tires left out in the open. Violations were discovered in every case.
“Some of the tire generators actually had the scrap tire permit, but they weren't following the rules of the permit, which specify keeping those tires stored indoors or under a roofed structure,” he said. “The other vendors we went to didn't have a scrap tire permit at all, which means the city is not really aware of them being scrap tire generators, so they're not subject to the regular inspections.”
In the past, Hansen said, city inspections at tire dealerships came mostly in response to citizen complaints, but that has changed. “Now we're proactively going and doing inspections whether we have a complaint or not,” he said. “Any city official or agent is allowed by the city ordinance to go out and do this inspection. The difference between us and a code inspector is we're going to write a criminal citation.”
These citations range from $500 to $2,000 depending on the nature of the violation, he said. “There are literally hundreds of tire shops in Dallas, so I see this going on for at least two months,” he said. “We're going to turn all our findings over to code compliance so they can have a follow-up program for inspections. Hopefully we can bring all these guys into compliance because the fines are pretty harsh.”