In a 5-0 vote Monday evening, Council approved amendments to town code 91.12, which will now prohibit open fires between the dates of May 1 and September 30.
The ban will not include fires in hibachis, gas or charcoal grills for personal outdoor cooking. In addition, the ordinance will still allow for fires for recreational or ceremonial purposes in a fire pit or appropriate container.
The issue was first brought to the Council’s attention on April 2, when resident Karen DiMattia, of 4 Ward Street, said her neighbor was recently given a permit to burn twice in a month.
“Whenever burning occurs outside, there is always smoke which creates air pollution, particles of burning matter carried in the air and the danger of fire to any structure or grass,” said DiMattia.
Fire Chief Ron Doire said as a rough estimate, one out of every 50 open fire permits will result in a complaint.
DiMattia pointed out that open fires are not necessary because Middletown has an effective recycling and rubbish removal program.
The following exceptions were written into the amended town code: a fire set in conjunction with the production of agricultural commodities, a fire set for the purpose of instructing personnel in firefighting, a fire set to prevent or abate a fire hazard, a fire set for the prevention and control of disease or pests.
The penalty for violation of the amended ordinance will be between $25 and $500, plus the cost of prosecution. Penalties will be doubled for second and subsequent offenses.