Burning debris, leaves in city could bring fines

Published 9:43 am Friday, November 4, 2016

Those burning debris or leaves within the city will see fines as well as flames.

Anyone burning without following the proper procedures can expect to be fined,  Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks said.

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen and Weeks agreed at Tuesday’s board meeting it was time to start cracking down on residents violating the recently updated city burn ordinance and the countywide burn ban.

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“The problem we’ve had that’s kind of reoccurring is people either burning without a permit or violating the ban,” Weeks said. “I think we need to start fining these folks when they do so.”

Countywide burn ban

A countywide burn ban was enacted Oct. 27, and is expected to stay in effect until Nov. 21.

Weeks said it is possible the burn ban could be extended, depending on whether the county sees rain.

“There are no exceptions to the ban at this time,” Lincoln County fire coordinator and emergency manager Glifford Galey said.

Lincoln County is one of 76 counties in Mississippi under burn bans. A dry cold front moving in throughout this week will make conditions favorable for an increase in the frequency and severity of wildlife activity.

A burn ban means no outdoor burning of any kind.

Items not allowed include campfires, bonfires, fire pits, fire rings, burn barrels, debris burning, fireworks, field burning — anything with an open flame that produces an ember. The wind can carry floating embers away from the original fire and start a spot fire up to one-half mile away from the burning area.

Items allowed include propane/ gas grills, propane/ gas heaters, and charcoal grills. Propane/ gas grills, propane/ gas heaters, and charcoal grills should be utilized as described by their manufacturer’s instructions, located safely away from combustible materials, and never left unattended.

Those who violate the ban could be fined anywhere from $100 to $500. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will enforce fines within the county.

City burn ordinance

With the countywide burn ban in effect, the city should not see any burning, however, the board recently approved a newly amended city burn ordinance and burn permit after Weeks began dealing with undocumented burns on a regular basis.

City attorney Joe Fernald said the new city burn ordinance allows for a more stringent documentation process in order to protect all those involved in a burn.

“What is going to happen is this — from now on when someone comes to see the chief about burn ordinances, he’ll issue the permit,” Fernald said. “He will deliver it in triplicate — one to the mayor or the clerk’s office, one to me and he’ll keep the original. Everybody will have one. The person obtaining the permit will get a copy of the ordinance with it. The ordinance will be stapled to the front of it. We also want to know who’s going to be responsible, who’s going to be there, all this kind of stuff. We want to be a little more involved.”

Under the ordinance, no one can burn brush, trash, rubbish and garbage, have a bonfire or outdoor rubbish fire, or burn leaves openly anywhere in the city without acquiring a burn permit through the Brookhaven Fire Department.

“It’s a lot more thorough,” Weeks said. “If somebody comes in and they need a big area cleared and they want to burn that stuff, they need to get board approval to do so. I think that will kind of help out, I believe, with the problem. If they don’t comply with the ordinance, they don’t get a permit.”

Those who violate the city burn ordinance could be fined anywhere from $5 to $500. The Brookhaven Police Department will enforce fines in the city concerning the burn ordinance. 

“I appreciate your work on that, and the fact that we’re under this burn ban, it makes it more relevant to be aware of (burning),” Mayor Joe Cox said.

For more information concerning the countywide burn ban, contact Galey at (601) 833-8561. For information about the city burn ordinance and how to obtain a burn permit, contact Weeks at (601) 833-7311.