County Council to Hold Final Vote on Burn Ordinance

Daniel Prince

WBCU News received advance copy of ordinance--here's what's in it

Union County Council is set to hold the third and final reading of a burn ordinance at its next meeting. WBCU News obtained a copy of the ordinance to let our listeners know what it contains. First, violations of the burn ordinance will be considered a misdemeanor, and a fine of $100 plus court fees and administrative costs will be assessed for the first offense, and a $200 fine plus court fees and administrative costs will be issued for second and subsequent offenses. The ordinance applies to unincorporated areas of the county. If the City of Union, Carlisle, Jonesville, or Lockhart want to be included, they would have to separately pass the ordinance in their public meetings.

The ordinance states that smoke production must be ended and no more combustible material may be added to a fire between sunset of one day and sunrise of the next, except for fires for cooking food for immediate consumption, fires used solely for human warmth, or recreational fires, which are defined as an outdoor fire burning solid fuels and/or natural vegetation and small enough to be easily controlled by one person with minimal fire-fighting equipment, such as a rake, hoe, shovel, and large bucket of water. A recreational fire is limited to 9 square feet (3x3) and no more than 18” high, unless a continuous water supply, such as a hose connected to a municipal water line or well is immediately available and connected, in which case the fire can then be up to 50% larger, which would be 13.5 square feet and 27” high. Recreational fires do not include the burning of yard debris or trash for disposal.

Yard debris burning must be located at least 75 feet away from any dwelling, building, outbuilding, barn, or shed structure, as well as at least 75 feet away from the property line. In addition, adequate provision must be made to keep the fire from spreading within 75 feet of either. More debris cannot be added between sunset of one day and sunrise of the next, and smoke production must be ended during those times, as well. Yard debris fires are not considered recreational fires and may be extinguished at the discretion of the County Fire Marshal, the fire district chief, or their designee.

Land clearing and right-of-way maintenance burning must be conducted in accordance with the ordinance and DHEC air quality regulations. They require a permit from the SC Forestry commission, and those types of burns have to be at least 1000 feet away from roadways, property lines, and occupied structures not on the property where the burning is conducted.

Recreational fires must be at least 10 feet away from dwelling structures. Recreational fires are exempt from general yard debris burning bans issued by the County Fire Marshal unless specifically outlined within the ban or by an outdoor burning ban issued by the SC Forestry Commission.

Any burning must be constantly attended by a competent adult aged 18 or older, until it is extinguished. Either a connected water hose or other adequate fire extinguishing equipment should be ready available for use. Proper notification of such burning should be given to the SC Forestry Commission.

The county fire marshal or a designee can issue a burning ban when conditions exist that would make such fires hazardous. Reasonable criteria for such bans will be established, such as air quality standards, various fire danger indexes, or when red flag alerts are established by the SC Forestry Commission.
Asphalt, paint, plastics, metals, treated wood, paper, petroleum products, demolition debris, non-vegetative material, dead animals, construction debris, household chemicals, household garbage, tires, trade waste, and cardboard cannot be burned in an open fire. Hazardous and toxic materials are prohibited from burning.

Open burning is prohibited on county roads and drainage rights-of-way and adjacent areas. Fires at construction sites are limited to those for human warmth and are permitted with natural, untreated dimensional lumber, or solid fuel materials. The pile size can be up to 3 feet in diameter and must be 15 feet from combustible construction. No hazardous or artificial materials may be burned in the fire.

Individuals conducting an open burn are still subject to civil or criminal liabilities resulting from the burning.

The ordinance is set for final vote at tomorrow’s meeting.

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