Ranchester Adopts Fire Pit Ordinance

Residents in Ranchester will have to build permanent outdoor fireplaces or use portable fire pits for so-called recreational burning only under a new ordinance adopted earlier this month.

Ranchester Mayor Allan Moore said the ordinance is to stop the practice of some residents of simply digging holes in which to burn trash. The new ordinance, which is effective upon publication, specifically states that “No pits shall be dug and used as a fire pit.”

The new ordinance also states that the fire is to be for recreational purposes only, and that no trash, yard waste or similar debris may be burned in a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace. Bonfires are prohibited.

The new town law requires that a portable fire pit should be three feet or less in diameter, and that it be equipped with a cover or screen to prevent escape of sparks or embers from burning trash. A permanent outdoor fireplace structure must be equipped with screens or doors and a spark arrester.

Other provisions call for a portable fire pit to be at least 10 feet from any combustible structure, and that a portable fire extinguisher or fire hose must be “immediately available” for use in the area of the fire. A fire must be constantly attended, and it must be cold to the touch when the pit or fireplace is extinguished.

Smoke from a pit or fireplace cannot drift toward or enter an occupied structure, and the Ranchester volunteer fire department has authority to require a fire to be extinguished. If a portable fire pit or outdoor fireplace starts a fire that requires calling the fire department, the property owner will be responsible for all costs associated with putting out the fire.

Anyone who violates the new ordinance may be fined up to $100. Any restrictions on open burning enacted by the Sheridan County fire warden will apply to portable fire pits and outdoor fireplaces in the town.