Ban on open burning goes before Columbia City Council

Sunday, April 20, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT


WHAT: A proposed new ban on open burning will be up for a vote when the Columbia City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Daniel Boone City Building.

WHY: A ban on open burning was proposed after citizen complaints, said Stephanie Browning, director of the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.

"There are complaints in Columbia when open burning is allowed, and citizens complained that it bothered their respiratory issues," Browning said.

While there is no data on the direct impact of open burning on health in Columbia, emissions from burning are known to produce adverse health effects, according to a memo addressed to the council from "city manager and staff."

Out of the 495 burn permits issued by the Columbia Fire Department between Jan. 1, 2010, and March, 10, 2014, 326 permits were for open burning.

WHAT'S COVERED:  All open burning in Columbia other than recreational fires as defined in the fire code.

EXCEPTIONS: The following exceptions to the proposed open burning ban would require a permit:

  • Open burning of vegetative material for agricultural purposes with a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height.
  • Burning to clear trees, brush, grasses, stumps and other landscape plantings in a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less height.
  • Bonfires.
  • Wildlife management practices.
  • Prevention or control of disease or pets.

OTHER SPECIAL CASES: Any open burning areas larger than 3 feet by 2 feet requiring a permit would need approval by the City Council with a recommendation from fire officials, and in some cases, the director of health.

A permit for land clearing that includes burning areas larger than 3 feet by 2 feet would receive only a permit if the material cannot be put to other reasonable use such as logs or firewood.

Open burning by government officials for emergency situations to protect human health and safety, for firefighter training, to reduce the impact of wildfires, to manage grass growth in government-owned natural areas and in research areas are also allowed.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Corey Parks April 20, 2014 | 11:20 p.m.

Yeah they should let that stuff become over grown and spread diseases to the plants and wildlife and great wild fire dangers around Columbia. That sounds a lot better then a couple controlled burns every two years on the areas that need it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 21, 2014 | 12:58 a.m.


I recall that about the time I moved to Columbia (1989) there were those who were suffering respiratory problems from use of cinders as a treatment for snow or ice covered streets. While that's certainly possible, I don't recall anywhere else I've lived where that was considered a problem.

Before the availability of natural gas (pipelines) in the Midwest, cinders from coal burning were widely used as a deicer and means of gaining vehicular traction, if only to get rid of the cinders themselves. City streets were black from December trough March.

But we (Northern cities) definitely had some spectacular winter sunsets in those days: the setting sun's rays reflecting off all that airborne particulate matter.

(Report Comment)

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