Before You Light It…. Know Laurel’s Open Burn Regulations

The Laurel City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting open burning in city limits without a permit. Open burning is any time you light an outdoor fire without a chimney or stack. When burning rubbish in burn barrels or open piles, the potential cost to your health, your home, your neighbors and the environment far exceeds the price of adequate collection services.

Regulations regarding open burning in are set forth in Chapter 9 of the City Code (Section 9-13) as it pertains to Open Burn Permits and Penalties. “It shall be illegal to conduct open burns within the confines of the City limits unless said burns and burn sites have first been approved by the City Fire Department and a permit has been issued for said burn at said site under those terms and regulations to be furnished to the applicant by the City Fire Department. This section applies to but is not limited to the burning of trash, debris and other flammable materials by private citizens, contractors, organizations businesses, institutions or the like. Anyone who fails to comply with this section or any portion thereof shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed six months.”

“The open burn ordinance was imposed to curtail burning in the city as an overall health and safety issue,” Fire Chief James Brown said. “Residents are allowed to burn within confined areas, such as a fire pit or grill.”

Burning household waste produces many toxic chemicals. Other air pollutants from open burning include particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, lead and mercury. These pollutants have been linked to several health problems, including asthma, respiratory illnesses, nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, and reproductive or developmental disorders. Other items not permitted to burn are land clearing waste, residential waste, materials containing rubber, grease and asphalt or made from petroleum: tires, auto parts, plastics or plastic-coated wire and dead animals.

The Laurel sanitation department picks up yard debris for residential customers if it is placed at the curb. Brown said there were some residents who seemed to prefer to burn their yard waste but now it is unlawful to do so and residents need to know breaking the law can come with a hefty fine.

What You Can Do Instead of Open Burning?
• Weekly city trash collection
• Reduce the amount of waste you generate.
• Reuse items in another way.
• Compost yard trimmings and food scraps, while creating a natural, free fertilizer.

Protect yourself, your neighbors and your wallet by knowing the law—what you can burn and where. For more information or questions on open burn regulations, please contact the Laurel Fire Department at (601) 428-6597.