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How to Get a Fire Pit Permit in Ferndale

The city recently approved a new open burning ordinance. Here's how to apply for a permit so you can have a backyard fire pit.

On Oct. 8, Ferndale City Council approved a new open burning ordinance that allows for backyard fires as long as residents get a permit and follow certain guidelines.

Under the new ordinance, residents must apply for a burning permit and pay a one-time $25 fee. Fire pits had previously been illegal in the city.

Ferndale Fire Marshall Brian Batten said Thursday that he has given out seven permits so far and that everyone who has applied for a permit has met the requirements.

How to get a permit

The Ferndale Fire Department is still working out the details of how the permitting process will go in the future, but for now residents are asked to apply at the Ferndale Fire Station on Livernois, Batten said.

Residents will need to provide their name, address and phone number. They can also call in this information to the department at 248-546-2510.

The Fire Department will send out someone to inspect the yard, including measuring the available space to ensure it meets the city's guidelines.

Those who are approved for a permit will then pay the $25 permit fee.

The permit process might change in the future, but an inspection of the property will always be involved. "They'll always be inspected," Batten said.

The permit expires at the end of each year, but residents will only have to pay the fee one time, he said.

The rules

Residents must follow these rules:

  1. The patio wood-burning unit or campfire shall not be used to burn refuse.
  2. The patio wood-burning unit or campfire shall burn only clean wood.
  3. The patio wood-burning unit or campfire shall be located at least 20 feet from the nearest structure which is not on the same property as the patio wood-burning unit and at least 15 feet from the nearest structure on the same property as the patio wood-burning unit.
  4. The patio wood-burning unit or campfire shall not cause a nuisance to neighbors.
  5. Operational hours for any patio wood-burning unit or campfire shall be limited to the time between 11 a.m. and 1 a.m.
  6. All Fires shall be supervised by at least one person who is 18 years of age or older.
  7. There shall be at minimum a garden hose connected to a reliable water supply, 1 gallon bucket of water, or a 2a10BC rated fire extinguisher with 20 feet of any open burning.

You can read the full ordinance, as originally proposed, here. The original ordinance amendment proposed an annual $25 fee however council approved a change making it a one-time fee.

Lou Phelan December 02, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Since our lots are so narrow in Ferndale (the majority are less than 50 feet wide) wood burning fire pits would assault close neighbors on their own property and in their own homes. The EPA has a special page dedicated to the dangers of inhaling wood smoke: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/healtheffects.html It's not reasonable to expect elderly persons, families with children under 18 years of age, or those with a variety of health problems to have to keep their windows closed at all times due to neighbors burning wood in fire pits. According to Scientific American: "Fine particles also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and have been linked to premature deaths in those already suffering from such afflictions. As such, the EPA advises that anyone with congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma should steer clear of wood smoke in general. " Due to the dangers of inhaling fine particulates from wood burning, the author at Scientific American concludes, "While a wood stove may be a necessary evil as a source of interior heat, there is no excuse for lighting up a backyard fire pit during times when you could be creating health issues for your neighbors." http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fire-pit-environmental-dangers Health reasons alone should have prevented the ban on wood burning fire pits from being lifted. This has opened Ferndale up to unnecessary lawsuits.
Tom February 23, 2013 at 03:43 AM
It is unfortunate that Ferndale has decided to allow wood burning yard fire pits. If they only knew how many house fires are caused by fire pits, they would not have even thought of legalizing them. This is like legalizing drunk driving (considering that a lot of fire enthusiasts are drunk themselves, or teens spraying gasoline on their fire, etc.) Ferndale's fire department is going to be busy next summer putting out house fires and rescuing burned pets and children!

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