Effective immediately, all outdoor open burning and recreational fires are prohibited in the City of Muskegon Heights until April 25, 2021. This order is in accordance with the January 11, 2019 revision to chapter 42 of the Muskegon Heights Code of Ordinances and the 2018 International Fire Code adopted by the city. This order does not prohibit the use of charcoal and propane grills for cooking food. However, this order prohibits the use of wood campfire-style fires for cooking unless it is in an enclosed container.
Spring in Michigan is one of the most dangerous times to have outdoor fires. In 10 of the last 18 days, the Muskegon Heights Fire Department has responded to various outdoor fire emergencies in addition to numerous burning complaints. These recent fires cause undue risk to human life and have damaged property on several occasions. This significant uptick in these types of incidents over the past several years is the exact reason why City Council approved the ordinance revision requiring permits for outdoor recreational fires.
In the last 30 days, there has only been about one-half of an inch of rain in Muskegon Heights and several occasions with higher than average winds. While there is some rain in the forecast for next week, the fire danger in Michigan will remain high until mid-May, when the leaves have opened up on the trees.
During the next 23 days during this burning ban, you can expect to see more information regarding the requirements to have recreational fires. An updated permit process will roll out online during this period so that once the ban is lifted, you can begin to enjoy outdoor recreational fires safely.
Fire Chief Christopher J. Dean
Recreational Fire Ordinance Language Adopted February 11, 2019
Bonfires and recreational fires
No person shall kindle or maintain any bonfire or recreational fire in the city without first obtaining a permit therefore. Such permit may be issued by the fire chief only after an inspection of the site by the fire chief or his authorized representative. Bonfires and recreational fires are subject to the following conditions, in addition to other provisions of this article and the International Fire Code, as adopted in sec 42-26
Authority of fire chief. The fire chief may prohibit any and all open burning when atmospheric conditions or circumstances make such fire hazardous or when, in the opinion of the fire chief, such burning would constitute a fire hazard or will endanger the life or property of any person. Administrative regulations. The fire department may promulgate reasonable rules and regulations for the standards and requirements for the issuance of all permits under this section.
General safety regulations.
No person shall deposit hot ashes, cinders or smoldering coals, or greasy or oily substances liable to spontaneous ignition, into any combustible receptacle, or place such substances within ten feet of any combustible materials, except in a metal or other non-combustible covered receptacle. Such receptacle, unless resting on a noncombustible floor or on the ground outside a building, shall be placed on a noncombustible stand, and in every case, shall be kept at least two feet away from any combustible wall or partition or exterior window opening.
No person shall throw down or drop any lighted match, cigar, cigarette or other burning substance on combustible material or in close proximity thereto.
All fires, of whatever nature, permitted under this article shall take place only during hours approved by the fire chief. (d) All open fires and outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended by a competent person of 18 years or older and shall be completely extinguished before being left alone.
Penalties; correction of violations.
Whoever violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this article, or any rule or regulation adopted or issued pursuant to this article, shall be punished as provided in section 1-13(b), or shall reimburse the city for the reasonable costs of control, investigation and/or suppression of illegal fires, or shall be subject to all the penalties mentioned in this subsection.
The imposition of one penalty for a violation of or noncompliance with any of the provisions of this article shall not excuse the violation or noncompliance or permit it to continue, and whoever so violates or fails to comply is required to correct or remedy the violation or noncompliance within a reasonable time. When not otherwise specified, a separate offense shall be deemed committed each day during or on which a violation or noncompliance occurs or continues.
General Guidance in accordance with Fire Code
Allowed burning conditions:
- Clean wood
- 25 feet from any structure or property line (15 feet if in an approved container)
- No larger than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet high
- Leaves, brush, and grass clippings
- Construction materials
- Must have fire extinguishing equipment (garden hose, fire extinguisher, 5 gallon bucket filled, etc.) readily available