Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Council to Consider Open Fire Regulations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Council to Consider Open Fire Regulations

Article excerpt

Feel like roasting marshmallows at a backyard bonfire?

In Allegheny County, residents might soon need to check the latest health department regulations before setting up for s'mores.

The Allegheny County Council will likely vote in the coming weeks on revised open burning regulations that the Allegheny County Health Department has proposed. The revisions to the current regulations are in response to what a health department manager described as a common complaint: air pollution from wood smoke.

"Allegheny County doesn't have a lot of camping, but we do have an awful lot of people that use backyard burning kits," said Jayme Graham, the air quality program manager.

About a third of the complaints the department receives about air quality are related to wood burning complaints, she said. In 2013, there were 518 air quality complaints made to the health department, and 144 of them were related to open burning.

The revised regulations lay out new rules related to open burning. According to the proposed changes, no material other than clean wood, propane or natural gas may be burned. Charcoal may be used for cooking, items such as fire logs may be used in outdoor fireplaces, and paper or smokeless fire starters may be used to start a fire.

Open burning using those materials may be conducted using chimineas, fire pits or outdoor fire places. The regulations require open burning to be at least 15 feet from the nearest neighbors' dwelling or from a property line, roadway, sidewalk or public access way.

No wood burning activities, except for the commercial preparation of food, can be conducted on Air Quality Action Days. Ms. Graham said there are typically fewer than a dozen of those days in a year.

The regulations say the health department may prohibit or reduce any open burning activity that it finds to be a nuisance. …

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