Wilkes-Barre City Fire Dept. issues summer fire safety tips

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WILKES-BARRE — The city fire department reminds residents of their responsibilities while using barbecue grills, fire pits and outdoor fire places.

Each year the Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department responds to nearly two dozen open burning complaints and barbecue grill fires. The WBFD has already responded to such calls this year.

Outdoor grills, fire pits and fire places are regulated by city ordinance and enforced by the city’s Fire, Police, Health Code and Building Code Enforcement departments. The use of outdoor fire pits and fire places must follow the city ordinance and rules that have been listed to keep all of our city residents safe:

• Barbecue grills may not be used on any common covered area or balcony or any over-hanging portion on any residential dwelling or within five feet of any part of a residential dwelling.

• Open burning in the city has not been traditionally accepted. Unregulated burning may also constitute a threat to the safety, health and welfare of the people living within the city. Open burning may also constitute a threat of damage or harm to property. Accordingly, the Wilkes-Barre City Council enacted an ordinance that defines Open Burning and puts some regulations in place.

In general there is no open burning within the city of Wilkes-Barre unless specifically authorized by the Fire Department. Exemptions to the outdoor burning rule are:

• The burning of charcoal, clean wood or cooking fuels used in cooking.

• The burning of clean untreated wood in a commercially manufactured outdoor fire pit or outdoor fire place provided that:

– The fire is wholly contained in the fire pit.

– The fire pit is covered by a screen to control the emission of ash and embers.

– The fire does not constitute a nuisance.

– The fire is not within 15 feet of combustible materials or adjacent property lines.

– The fire is not unattended.

– There is not more than one fire pit or fire place located on the lot.

– The fire is not located on a lot containing more than two dwelling units or at a fraternity, sorority, or similar housing.

– Burning for bona fide ceremonial or bona fide religious purposes

Even if the burning would otherwise be allowed, no open burning shall occur if, in the discretion of the Fire Department, it constitutes a nuisance by representing a danger to the public safety, health or welfare.

• The use of outdoor fire pits or places is not authorized between the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.

• Penalties for violating the Barbecue Grill Ordinance range from $300 to $1000.

• Open Burning penalties shall be subject to a fine of not more than $250.

To view the ordinances in full, please visit www.wilkes-barre.city/wilkes-barre-city-fire-dept/pages/fire-safety-ordinances

Open burning should be reported, as it occurs, to the Fire Department by calling 911. This allows the Fire Department to be dispatched to investigate the complaint and enforce the open burning ordinance.

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