SIDNEY — As autumn approaches, the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department wants to remind citizens to be mindful while participating in open burning.
“As autumn approaches, many people look forward to cool evenings spent around a warm fire shared with family, friends, and neighbors. I find times spent in this manner with family and friends to be some of my most joyous and bring to remembrance some of my fondest and precious memories,” Sidney Fire Chief Chad Hollinger said.
“Open burning” is broken down in to three general areas: cooking, campfires and other makeshift devices, and patio appliances. According to Hollinger, several areas of the Ohio Fire Code and City of Sidney Codified Ordinance must be understood for the open burning to be permitted.
First, any open burning for the purpose of waste disposal is not permitted. Waste includes, but is not limited to: garbage, plant material, brush, grass, weeds, and any other waste produced during residential activities. The city ordinance references “clean wood or equivalent” as permitted fuel for open burning. This simply means clean seasoned firewood, natural gas or equivalent, or any other clean burning fuel.
“We are often asked, ‘what is clean seasoned firewood?’ Clean seasoned firewood is most commonly defined as wood that has been left to dry for a sufficient period of time to evaporate and release the moisture within the tree’s cells and sap,” Hollinger said.
Unseasoned or green wood will produce significant amounts of white smoke, which contains moisture, and will burn poorly.
A final point to consider is “means of extinguishment”, which is one of the most common infractions of the open burning ordinance. To engage in a permitted open burn, a fire extinguisher, sufficient dirt or sand, a water barrel or bucket, garden hose, or other water source sufficient to control the fire must be immediately available for use.
“To be clear, the means of extinguishment must be present at the sight of the open burning and that it is immediately ready to be utilized,” Hollinger said.
The size of a permitted fire and distances from structures or other combustibles are also significant concerns when engaging in open burning within the city. Due to the close proximity of residences and structures, the fire should be kept relatively small. Without special permission for ceremonial fires or other activities, fires are generally permitted to be no larger than three feet wide and two feet high. Fires must be, at a minimum, twenty-five feet from structures or other combustibles for campfires and makeshift devices, and fifteen feet from structures for commercial patio appliances.
A full checklist on open burning can be viewed at https://www.sidneyoh.com/DocumentCenter/View/436/Open-Burning-Checklist-PDF. For more information, residents can contact the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and speak with the Fire Prevention Division at 937-498-2346.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department, 222 W. Poplar St., Sidney.