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Friday April 4th, 2014

Posted at 2:05pm

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Essex Fire and Rescue is reminding residents that open air fires are prohibited in the municipality of Essex unless a permit has been obtained in advance and a set of precautions are strictly observed.

Open air fires include backyard bonfires, fires set in fire bowls, fire pits or chimineas, and fires set by farmers for the disposal of vegetable matter or vegetation on farm lands. Fire bowls, pits and chimineas measuring less than 24 inches in diameter with a grill do not require a permit. The centre of the enclosed fire must be a minimum of 15 feet from the property line and a minimum of 10 feet from permanent combustible structures or objects.

The open burn bylaw has been around since 2001, but Fire Chief Ed Pillon says the fire department frequently deals with complaints from people who are bothered or concerned about their neighbour’s backyard fire. If smoke adversely affects neighbouring properties, causes annoyance or irritation to adjacent properties, or decreases visibility on any highway or roadway, you cannot burn.

“We are frequently dealing with people who claim to have no knowledge of this by-law, so it is necessary to remind residents of their obligation to obtain a permit and to abide by the prescribed rules,” says Pillon.

Open air fires must be constantly supervised by a competent adult and must contain no more than one cubic metre of clean, untreated wood or wood by-products at any one time. A means of extinguishing the fire, for example using a garden hose, must be available at all times. Burning kitchen garbage or materials made of rubber, plastic or tar is strictly prohibited as they may pose both environmental and health risks.

“There is no fee for a permit,” says Pillon. “It’s simply a matter of calling us.”

The Town of Essex says that they issue about 2,000 permits per year.

“Our number one goal is the safety and well-being of our municipality to assure we have a fire safe community,” says Pillon.

When planning an open air fire, contact the Essex Fire Department during business hours by calling 519-776-7132 ext. 10 on Monday, Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, or if busy, call 519-776-6476 ext. 10.

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