Happy April everyone, we finally have warmer weather.

As the temperature rises, everyone hopes to be heading outside to enjoy the sunshine. Some of the outdoor activities like yard work and grilling, for example, have some fire hazards attached to them; here are a few fire guidelines to follow that will keep you fire safe and keep us from knocking on your door.

Yard waste seems to become a big concern this time of year. We all want to clean up the debris from this past fall and winter and get ready for a fresh start. This cleanup ranges from leaves, branches, dead grass and garbage that may have blown into your yard. It is highly recommended that for all yard and garden waste, you bring it to the city collection sites around town.

All open burning (without a fire pit or fire safe receptacle) is not allowed within the city limits without a permit from the fire department. We do allow recreational fires within the city limits as long as certain guidelines are followed regarding container, component, location, safety and courtesy.

First the container, a recreational fire is defined as any fire in an approved container with a spark arrester style cover. Second, only components allowed to be burned are small branches and split logs, which means grass, leave or garbage are not allowed. Third, all approved burning containers shall be at least 25 feet from any structure or combustible material. Fourth, fires shall be attended at all times with a means of extinguishment available (garden hose, fire extinguisher, etc.). And lastly, if there are any complaints in regards to smoke or odor from a neighbor or others, it shall result in the fire needing to be extinguished.

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Please pay close attention to weather conditions; if it is extremely windy or dry, do not burn. Embers from a small fire can carry a long distance and create a fire elsewhere. If for any reason you will no longer be present around the fire, please put water on to make sure the fire it out. Large fires, such as neighborhood bonfires, are not allowed unless approved by the fire department.

Grilling is also large part of being outside this time of year. This type of cooking is generally a safe practice but with any type of cooking, hazards do exist. If you live in an apartment, please remember charcoal grills are not allowed on decks. Swirling wind and charcoal embers falling through vent holes can and have started deck fires. For propane grills, you are allowed up to a 20 pound cylinder attached for cooking.

Another issue that we see frequently when called to a location is a grill being placed too close to combustibles. An example of this would be a grill up against a house (one that has vinyl siding or any other flammable material) which can ignite quickly.

Please keep all grills at least 3 feet from anything you think will burn. Clean all grills after use, this will prevent buildup of cooking materials and grease that may ignite in the future. With any of the above, disposal of waste material is extremely important.

Do not dispose of ashes in any material that has the possibility of catching on fire, such as a plastic garbage can or cardboard box. Only dispose ashes into a metal container with a metal lid and store it outside of garage or other enclosure.

We have had many fires where individuals think the ashes from the previous night’s fire or grilling were out and it then started the house or garage on fire. Please stay safe, wash your hands, follow the social distancing guidelines and be fire safe.