Poll: How Restrictive Should Township Ordinances be on Backyard Fires?
Macomb Township currently allows its residents to use enclosed fire pits in their backyards, but some local cities prohibit fires of any kind for safety and health reasons.
Across the state, the start of summer signals a massive migration to the backyard where barbecues and campfires reign supreme and S'mores are practically a food group.
But for those living in Macomb Township, not every backyard barbecue is allowed under township ordinances.
While open burning is not permitted in any of subdivisions, condo complexes, apartments or mobile home parks in Macomb, enclosed fire pits are allowed with a few conditions.
Enclosed fire pits are permitted anywhere in the township so long as the pit itself stands on a nonflammable base, burns only seasoned wood or charcoal and rests at least 15 feet from any structure, including a deck, garage or storage building, according to the ordinance. Traditional dug-out campfires and other below grade fire pits are prohibited, but those that are metal with grating, or ceramic, as sold in stores like Home Depot and Target, are allowed.
However, even if all these requirements are met, township residents could still get a visit from the fire department.
“If it’s emitting a lot of smoke or bothering a neighbor, expect things to happen,” said Macomb Township Fire Prevention Sgt. Jason Dumas. “Every year we have this problem. People want to have campfires. There is a way we allow it but it is very strict.”
Neighboring Clinton Township does not allow fire pits of any kind, while New Baltimore's ordinance allows for both fire pits and bonfires, the latter with a permit. At present, neither New Baltmore nor Macomb's ordinances restrict time, but the city of Trenton was recently asked to consider amending its oridnance to allow backyard fires only on weekends.
This raises the question, is Macomb's ordinance too vague or is it just right for this largely residential community?
Open burning allowed with permit
Open burning is permitted in some areas of the township so long as residents obtain the necessary permit from the fire department.
Residents are allowed to burn logs, brush, tree stumps and branches any time of the year during daylight hours. However, the burning of construction and demolition waste, garbage, animal carcasses, refuse, trash, tires, rubbish, hedge clippings, leaves, grass or any like material giving off foul odors of any kind is strictly prohibited, according to the ordinance.
Permits can be obtained at Fire Station No. 4 on 25 Mile Road.
Call the Macomb Fire Prevention unit at 586-949-2138 with questions or concerns related to this ordinance.