Lebanon fire commissioner urges caution with outdoor burning

Written by John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News | May 28, 2015 4:45 PM
fire 600x340.jpg

Photo by Lebanon Daily News

Flames overtake a large pile of cuttings, which are prohibited from being burned in Lebanon.

(Lebanon) -- Backyard fires are creating a problem for Lebanon residents and firefighters, which prompted Fire Commissioner Duane Trautman to review the city's outdoor burning ordinance at Monday's City Council meeting.

The warmer weather has more residents using barrels, outdoor fire pits, and chimineas for burning, Trautman said. In addition to the unpleasant odors, the fires create hazards in many crowded neighborhoods with backyards barely large enough to meet the ordinance's 15-foot setback rule, he told the board.

"Open burning continues to be a problem with these portable fire places and people digging holes in the ground in postage stamp size properties that are 17 feet wide," he said. "The fire department usually gets these calls from EMA (Emergency Management Agency) at all times of the night when the smoke hangs low in the air."

The following are requirements of the city's outdoor burning ordinance:

  • Fires must be at least 15 feet away from any structure or combustible material, including those across property lines.
  • Only firewood can be burned. Burning rubbish, leaves, yard debris and paper is prohibited.
  • Fires must be attended at all times.
  • A fire extinguishing device (for example a hose, sand bucket, or fire extinguisher) must be readily available.

Even if the regulations are followed, the city's outdoor burning ordinance gives the fire department the authority to extinguish fires for safety or other reasons, including noxious odors, Trautman told the board.

"The guidance given to the fire chiefs is this," he said, reading from the ordinance. "Your judgment in regards to the fire being a danger or nuisance, such as smoke hanging in the general area due to humidity; wind conditions; stagnant air; sparks or embers."

Chimineas pose a problem, Trautman admitted, because open burning is defined as a fire with emissions that do not pass through a stack or chamber, which they have. However, their safe use is still governed by the regulations of the ordinance, including the 15-foot rule, he said.

Breaking the fire ordinance can lead to a fine.

This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF. 

Published in Lebanon, News

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