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By Firefighter/EMT Richard Zaykoski
June 1, 2020

The open-air burn ban is in effect. Maryland regulations (COMAR ban open fires from June 1st through August 31st each year. The burn ban includes Baltimore City and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's. The annual ban, which first went into effect in June of 1995, is designed to reduce the high ozone levels that affect the region during the summer months, allowing for better air quality. The ban is not related to rainfall.

Open-air burning is defined as a fire where any material is burned in the open or in a receptacle other than a furnace, incinerator, or other equipment connected to a stack or chimney.

Hazardous items, such as tires, plastics, aerosol cans, and oil, are never allowed to be burned.

There are special exceptions to the ban for agricultural operations and open fires for recreational purposes such as campfires and cooking of food, including the use of barbeques and gas grills.

Recreational Burns: Campfire burn area should be no greater than 3' x 3' (9 square feet) and should be contained by a non-flammable barrier, such as rocks or concrete. If cooking food, use a non-flammable grate over the burn area. Someone should be there to ensure that no fire spread occurs. Fires within 25 feet of any structure will be extinguished!

Agricultural Operations: Make sure that natural debris being burned is in a manageable pile. Someone should be there to ensure that no fire spread occurs. Fires within 500 yards of one or more occupied buildings or heavily travelled public roadway will be extinguished. No burning of materials that produce dense smoke when burned (ex. tires, roofing, etc.).

If you are going to hold a recreational fire or cook out make sure you follow a few simple rules.

•Have a safe distance between your recreational fire and your home or nearby woodland.

•Don’t burn on windy days.

•Have hand tools and a ready water supply (a garden hose or a few buckets of water nearby) on site in case the fire were to escape its contained area.

•Never leave the fire unattended.

•Clear the area around the site for a minimum of ten feet.

•Never use gasoline! Gasoline fumes can ignite and cause serious injury and possible death.

•When you are done cooking, dispose of your coals by completely soaking them with water and then placing them in a metal container away from your home. Several times last year, fire departments were called to house fires started by improperly disposed of barbecue materials.

•When the party is over, take the time to completely soak the fire with water to ensure it is out.

Any unattended fire WILL BE extinguished, even if they meet the special exceptions rule!!!!

If smoke is a nuisance, the fire will be extinguished!!!!

If we are called, we will ask you to extinguish the fire or we will extinguish it for you if your fire does not meet the special exceptions rules, per the Maryland Regulation (COMAR The Hampstead Police Department, Carroll County Sheriff's Office, or the State Fire Marshal's Office will be called if you refuse to comply with the regulation.

Add a Comment Add a Comment 1 Comment(s)

Brenda Smith July 17, 2020 at 9:08 AM
I have neighbors that burn in a burn barrel all hours of the day and night. I've called my local Fire Department on several occasions due to the smoke and smell. Depending on who responds I get different answers. I live in Calvert County. Does the burn ban include burn barrels? If so who can I call to complain? My local Fire Department won't do anything. Thank you.

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