Jamesburg council introduces ordinance setting standards for outdoor fire pits

Jamesburg Fire Department fire truck

JAMESBURG–The Borough Council introduced an ordinance, which if adopted, will amend the municipal code adding restrictions for outdoor recreational fires and burning of combustible items.

The mayor and council recognize that many residents enjoy relaxing by a recreational fire that is contained within a chiminea, outdoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit that is located upon residential property; however, the governing body also finds that recreational fires and burning of combustible materials in a residential setting may pose a serious hazard to the public health, safety and comfort, and the general welfare and quality of life for residents, according to the council.

“We had one resident who was not happy with his neighbors’ fire use, as it were. The mayor and council, once [the ordinance is] adopted, will allow fire pits and the like to be used but with guidance to ensure that it is done safely and more controlled for the health of other residents,” Borough Administrator Scott Frueh said.

The public has a right to and should be ensured of an environment free from noxious fumes and the threat of fire. It is the policy of the Borough of Jamesburg to prevent the danger of fire from open burning which is a detriment to the public health, safety, comfort, general welfare and quality of life, according to the council.

This ordinance seeks to balance the respective interests of quiet enjoyment of recreational fire activities on private property with that of securing and promoting public health, safety, and comfort, and the general welfare and quality of life of the residents, according to the council.

The council introduced and approved the ordinance on Sept. 16 during the council meeting via video conference. The second and final reading is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Recreational fire regulations include:

  • Recreational fires in approved containers will be allowed without a permit at one- and two-family owner-occupied homes, duplexes and townhomes.
  • Fires will be limited to a maximum three feet in diameter and two feet in height and must be contained in a non-combustible chiminea, outdoor fireplace, fire pit or other method approved by the fire official or his/her designee.
  • Fires must be kept in the rear yard at least 15 feet from any structure or combustible exterior wall.
  • Fires must be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, or garden hose, will be available for immediate utilization.
  • The burning of yard waste, leaves, brush, vines, evergreen needles, branches smaller than two inches in diameter, treated or untreated lumber, garbage, paper products or anything other than firewood as set forth herein is prohibited, except that kindling may be used to start a fire.

All recreational fires as set forth herein shall be prohibited between the hours of 2-7 a.m. The borough fire official, his/her designee, a borough police officer, and/or the borough code enforcement officer may order any open fire, or use of a chiminea, outdoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit which creates a nuisance, to be extinguished, according to the council.

Any person, firm or corporation, violating any of the provisions of this section will be liable to a fine not exceeding the sum of $1,000 per violation.

  1.  A fine of no more than $100 will be levied for a first offense;
  2. A fine of no more than $500 will be levied for a second offense;
  3. A fine of no more than $1,000 will be levied for any subsequent offenses.

This ordinance will take effect upon final adoption and publication as provided by law, according to the council agenda.

For more information, visit www.jamesburgborough.org/government/borough_council/agendas_&_minutes.php.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].