As the annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning is set to begin, Jamestown Fire Officials are reminding residents that recreational fires are illegal in the city.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation will prohibit brush burning in New York State between March 16 and May 14. Since 2009, the DEC has enforced the annual ban to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires each spring.
The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur.
Backyard fire pits and campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter are allowed. Small cooking fires are allowed. Only charcoal or dry, clean, untreated, or unpainted wood can be burned. DEC officials said people should never leave these fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.
In the City of Jamestown, recreational fires are banned year round. Fire Department Code Enforcement Officer Rob Smith said per the city charter the only fire allowed is cooking fires, “And there are certain regulations there. So they have to be in approved containers. It has to be some kind of container that’s made to keep a fire in. You to be burning charcoal or wood. You have to keep that container at least ten feet away from any combustible structure which could be a house, it could be a garage, could be a fence. Things of that nature.”
Smith said the Jamestown Fire Department responded to 98 calls in 2021 for possible illegal burns with 44 of those deemed legal cooking fire when crews arrived on scene.
He said the reason for the recreational fire ban is most likely due to how close together housing is in the City, “Any kind of fire could be potentially dangerous if there’s not a responsible adult there that’s prepared to put the fire out and things of that nature. So, what we don’t want to see is somebody having a good time and having a recreational fire and some of the embers may go up in the air, they may end up in say a leaf pile in the neighbor’s backyard and catching their house on fire.”
Smith added that gas-fueled outdoor fire pits or fireplaces are considered legal in Jamestown.
He said while neither the city charter nor fire code addresses smoke from a fire as a nuisance, the DEC does have regulations and can address complaints residents may have.
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