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Should Backyard Fires Be Allowed in Ferndale?

Open burning is currently illegal in the city, but officials are working on an ordinance that would make fire pits legal with certain restrictions.

There may be good news on the horizon for Ferndale residents who enjoy backyard campfires.

The city currently prohibits all open burning, including fire pits, but officials are working on changing that.

At the Ferndale City Council meeting on Monday, resident Ben Updyke told council members that he has regularly burned wood in an enclosed fire pit outside his home for the past five years, but that a fire official arrived at his house Saturday evening unbeknownst to him and put out his backyard fire with a garden hose.

He said he has learned of the city's open-burn ordinance and hopes council will revisit the issue, possibly allowing for burning firewood inside of enclosed fire pits.

"I'm wondering if we can take a second look at that," he said.

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter told Updyke his comments are very timely because an ordinance change is already in the works. The new ordinance would allow fire pits with some regulations and restrictions.

"It won't be the outright ban that we have now," Coulter said. "The ordinance itself is being reviewed as we speak."

The city's attorney, Dan Christ, said an ordinance draft has been provided to the Ferndale Fire Department and a proposed ordinance should be presented at council's next meeting Oct. 8.

What do you think?

Do you think Ferndale should allow fire pits? Did you know they were illegal in the city? Tell us in the comments section below.

Thomas Gagne October 08, 2012 at 03:30 PM
What kind of restrictions exist, or should exist, for backyard grilling? Must it always be gas to avoid offending people with charcoal? Should it be prohibited to avoid tempting dieters or the formerly obese? What about kitchen exhaust fans and popcorn? In the case off a winter-time power-outages, should residents be prohibited from outdoor, contained fires to stay warm? Should wood-burning stoves and furnaces be banned to avoid tormenting former smokers or the otherwise-concerned?
T. Scott Galloway October 08, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The proposed ordinance requires that residents who want a fire pit in their backyard get a $25 permit - annually - and adhere to the following requirements. 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 11:00 AM and 1:00 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. I am on the fence as to how to vote and welcome your input as to the content to the ordinance or whether it should be allowed at all.
Thomas Gagne October 08, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Councilman, the restrictions seem reasonable to me. The difficult part will be determining what is or isn't a nuisance in such a way that reasonable neighbors will agree.
Lou Phelan December 02, 2012 at 02:32 PM
What is wrong with getting a natural gas or propane burning fire pit or fire wall? This is the compromise that I am suggesting to those that would like to enjoy an outdoor fire, but don't want to endanger the health of our neighbors. Reasons to approve a natural gas or propane fire pit/fire wall solution: 1. They are clean burning. Natural gas and propane units do not give off offensive "smoke smell" and accompanying carcinogens that are a concern to many of us. 2. They don't cause or trigger the number of health problems that wood burning smoke does. It also eliminates worries over triggering asthma and allergy attacks in our neighbors. 3. The EPA warns that inhaling the smoke from wood burning fire places is dangerous to: a.) People with heart or lung disease, including CHF, angina, COPD, emphysema, or asthma. b.) Older adults, possibly because they are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions. c.) Children, because their lungs are still developing and they breathe more air (and air pollution) in per pound of body weight than adults. 4.) Fire risk to property and community is much lower with natural gas or propane. There is no danger of "burning embers" setting the surroundings on fire. 5.) When they are "off" they are off. When you go to bed there isn't a danger of embers reigniting combustible materials. There are many health and property reasons NOT to allow wood burning fire pits within the city limits.
Respect Each Other December 15, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I live in Florida, it's generally hot here. In the 3 or 4 winter months we have, it actually gets cool enough to turn off the airconditioner, open the windows, air the house, enjoy outdoor air....It sounds lovely but then your backyard neighbor whose property line is less than 20 feet from your windows decides to burn a fire. Oh, Oh! you are forced to close the windows but it doesn't help, the smell seeps in the dryer vent, under the doors, in the windows, and in the attic space through the soffit vents. Now who has violated who's rights? I didn't do anything but breathe, what are my rights?

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