For many, the fall months are a time for cleaning up our yards of accumulated leaves, sticks, and other vegetative debris before the long winter. Disposing of this dried up green waste is becoming more difficult, with many waste facilities no longer accepting such material. Yet, allowing this material to accumulate close to the home is even worse as it can become a bed for embers and act as an ignition source to a home. Faced with the choice, some choose to burn these materials in order to reduce this hazard.
But before you burn anything, it is important to be aware of your local codes and ordinances regarding outdoor burning. For example, the fall in the South East is the season for above normal wildfire potential due to the accumulation of dead, dry vegetation and dryer conditions overall.
The US Forest Service shares some great ideas to keep in mind before you burn anything;
- Make sure you are aware of local laws and ordinances (a permit may be required). NEVER BURN IF THERE IS A BURN BAN.
- Look around and above to make sure you are not burning next to something else that could ignite. This includes checking for overhanging branches, vehicles, out buildings and other things that could catch fire. Fires should be at least 50 feet from any structure.
- Never burn plastic or any other garbage along with the vegetation.
- Check the weather conditions and never burn when it is windy or very hot and dry.
- Start with a small pile and slowly add more material.
- Make sure you stay with the fire at all times. (You should have a charged hose and or fire extinguisher nearby as well as a shovel and rake).
- Make sure your fire is completely out and check the area around the fire for the next couple of days for smoldering embers.
For more information about how you can keep your home safer from wildfire, check out the NFPA’s Firewise USA program. Additional information concerning local authorities having jurisdiction over regulating outdoor burning can be found in the NFPA 1 section about open fires and outdoor burning.
Photo Credit: Steve Lawrey, Holly Knoll Homeowner's Association, Virginia, shared to NFPA 2019