Troop’s Tips: Burning yard waste

March 15, 2012


Lt. Matt Bryant


Hamlin Twp. Fire Dept.


Wow!  What a week.  A “little” on the breezy side but I will take these temperatures.  Time to shake the cabin fever and get outside to do that yard work.  Those pesky leaves you thought you had cleaned up last fall have taken up residence in every nook and cranny around the yard.  With recent winds, tree limbs lay scattered everywhere.  As the snow recedes,  the work begins.  What to do with the yard waste?  Hmmmmmm?  Burn it?  With this being an effective and efficient way to dispose of leaves and sticks.  It can also be a dangerous and expensive one.

Should you choose to burn your yard waste.  There are a few things you should know.

First of all, you must call or apply online for a burn permit.  It only takes a couple of minutes and they will inform you if burning is allowed that day.  If burning is allowed, they will issue you a number.  Write that number down and keep it handy.  If your local fire department is called for your fire.  They will ask for your burn permit number.  If you do not have a permit number you can be issued a citation.

Materials that can be legally burned are yard waste: Leaves, sticks, and grasses.  That is it!  No tires, carpet, or lumber.  Yes, I know lumber and sticks come from trees.  But the law states no building materials can be burned.  A good rule to follow, if it is man-made do not put it on your burn pile.  If you choose to burn household waste, paper plates, newspaper, magazines etc, these can be burned in a barrel – provided that barrel is covered by a screen with holes no bigger than one quarter of an inch mesh.  Again if this is not followed you could be issued a citation.

This is where it can really get expensive.  Should your choose to burn, you are responsible for that fire.  If that fire gets out of control, you can be held  responsible for any costs that may incur as a result of your fire.  Personal and public property, fire suppression, all costs for damages caused by your fire.

Alternative methods of getting rid of yard waste: Talk to your trash collector.  Most offer a separate collection bin for yard waste.  Another method, if space is available is to compost.  Mixing in household organic matter can produce a rich nutrient compost for flowers and vegetable gardens.

But if you still want to burn, please make that call or go online to make sure burning is allowed and get that burn permit number.  Use common sense.  Don’t burn if its windy. Keep a garden hose at the ready and wet the area around where you intend to burn.  Be safe and keep children away.  If your fire does get out of control.  Immediately call 911.

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