Most outdoor fires are prohibited.
Frederick, Md (KM) It’s a way to protect the region’s air quality in the summer. . The Frederick County Health Department says there’s an open burn ban in place between now and August 31st. Alicia Evangelista, program manager for the community services office, says the reason for improved air quality. “Burning during the summer months and the high heat isn’t a good combination. So by reducing it to no burn except for camp fires and cooking fires, if you are camping, allows the air to be healthy,” she says.
This annual ban began in June, 1995, and is in effect throughout the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Region, according to the Health Department. It’s designed to reduce high ozone levels during the summer months. The prohibition is required under Maryland State Air Quality regulations.
But Evangelista says small recreational fires, such as camp fires, and the use of barbecues and grills, are allowed during the burn ban. “If you’re cooking hot dogs in your back yard over one of those chimaneas, that is fine. It’s brush burns that are not allowed,” she says.
In addition, residents who want to have a cookout with their chmimaneas, barbecues or grills, can do so. They can also roast marshmallows over a fire, or make “s’mores.”
But Evangelista says there could be additional bans this summer issued by the County Fire Marshal. “If we had a drought condition, or high winds, we may put additional burn bans in effect,” she says.
Violators who continue outdoor burning even when the ban is in place could be facing penalties. They could be subject to fines from the county of up to $500, or from the state of up to $25,000. “A lot of times we try to do education first. Ideally, that’s the best practice,” Evangelista says. :”But if we have a repeat violator, then at that point it pretty much pushes us into the phase of acting and enforcement.”
Evangelista says burning trash is prohibited all year round. “Burn barrels are also prohibited, even though people will say they’re cooking their hot dog over that. You’re still burning lot of more brush to cook your hot dog over a burn barrel than you would be over a small chimanea or small fire circle,” she says.
During the summer burn ban, the Health Department’s Environmental Health Office will not issuing any burning permits. That will start up in September. Residents who want a burn permit should contact the Environmental Health Office by going on line to http://health.frederickcountymd.gov/344Open-Burn-Permit. They can download the application, but they must fill it out and mail to the Environmental Health Office at 320 Montevue Lane. A check to pay the fee should accompany the application. It should be made out to FCHD.
By Kevin McManus