Hamilton adopts new rules for small fires: What do they mean?

The city has created new regulations for small recreational fires, motivated to clamp down on companies and residents who burn garbage, instead of clean, dry wood, which produces little smoke.

“We want our citizens to be able to recreate in their backyard, have a little campfire, enjoy themselves, as long as they can do it safely,” said Fire Chief Mark Mercer.

“No trash, no painted wood, no treated wood, no plastics, no garbage. Nice, dry wood puts off a little bit of smoke, but not that nastiness. We don’t want them trimming their bushes, piling it up and burning it. That’s just nasty.”

City Council last week approved an ordinance limiting such fires to clean wood, with the fires having to be in contained areas that are 15 feet from property lines and 25 feet from buildings.

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“Our biggest push on that was we had a few businesses that were burning some refuse,” Mercer said. “We dealt with them one on one, but we didn’t really have good law. We looked at other cities that had good legislation.”

“As long as it’s contained, as long as it’s not close to a building, we encourage that,” Mercer told council at a recent meeting.

A reason for the ordinance was that smoke can cause problems for neighbors, especially people with asthma or other medial problems.

Mayor Pat Moeller said he regularly is asked about the laws about such fires. Council last week unanimously approved the new regulations.

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