Fire Chief wants residents informed about backyard fires

Jul. 1, 2020  PLYMOUTH VOICE.

Plymouth Michigan News

 

“Children’s exposure to wood smoke should also be limited, as their respiratory systems are still developing…”

 

Don Howard

Staff Writer

As outdoor recreational fires gain in popularity each year, fire officials stress that the activity comes with the responsibility for safety and consideration for your neighbors.

According to sales statistics recreational fires in subdivisions and urban areas are on the increase as homeowners buy fire pits, fire rings, fireplaces and other devices, especially during the summer season around the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.

Plymouth Township Fire Chief Dan Phillips agrees there’s an increase in the popular pastime and wants residents to have an enjoyable experience with their outdoor campfire and at the same time be safe and knowledgeable of the rules and the risks.

Community recreational fires are controlled by ordinance or code and residents must adhere to the National Fire Codes and other regulations set by Wayne County and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). There are two basic areas covered by these codes and regulations: where burning is permissible and what can be burned.

According to Phillips, objects such as outdoor fireplaces, chimeras, etc., if they are equipped with a chimney or stack, are permissible, and as long as they do not create excessive amounts of smoke.

Phillips says if a backyard campfire of is determined to be a fire hazard or nuisance and a complaint is filed with the Police or Fire Department, the resident will be asked to extinguish the fire.

“There is no open burning of leaves, wood, trash, construction materials, grass clippings, treated or untreated building materials, painted boards and other vegetation, all of which is not permitted and considered banned items that constitute a “nuisance” and violate Wayne County Ordinance.”

According to Township code portable wood burning units (versus those installed in the ground) must be placed at least 15 feet from a structure or other combustible material. An in-ground campfire or fire pit needs to be located at least 25 feet from a structure or other combustible material and can be no larger than 3 feet wide and no higher than 2 feet high.

“A competent person, age 18 years or older, must supervise the fire until it is out and cold with a connected garden hose or fire extinguisher equipment turned-on and readily available, on site,” the fire chief added.

Fire professionals, like Phillips, warn breathing smoke from residential wood burning is unhealthy.

According to a Scientific American (SA) publication, and the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), backyard fire pits can pose serious health hazards.

“It’s hard to assess the larger impact of backyard fire pits on local or regional air quality, but no one questions the fact that breathing in wood smoke can be irritating if not downright harmful. Fine particles (from smoke) 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.”

SA cautions, “Children’s exposure to wood smoke should also be limited, as their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe more air – and air pollution – per pound of body weight than adults.”

The EPA publicizes burn cleanly, safely, and responsibly for your family, neighbors and community. They suggest learning about the options before burning wood in your backyard and switching to natural gas or propane that reduces harmful air pollutants. Kits that convert existing fire rings and pits to natural gas or propane burners are available at hearth and patio stores.

“Be a good neighbor-be considerate and be safe.” Phillips added.

For more information about backyard fires, safety and regulations contact the Plymouth Township Fire Department at 734-354-3230.

 

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