By CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Fire Department issued a “friendly reminder” of its zero tolerance policy for anyone caught burning garbage.
If the fire department receives a burning complaint, an engine company will respond. If it is determined that the fire is illegal, the fire will be extinguished and a citation will be issued. If the fire is unattended, the property owner will be issued a citation. Including court costs, citation costs are as follows: first is $335, second is $585 and third is $835.
“We always have had it, we’re just reiterating it because springtime is coming, people are cleaning up their yards and we want to let them know what they can and can’t burn,” said Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge. “We’ve written several citations already this year. We don’t want to have to write citations, but when it comes down to burning garbage, it’s time for zero tolerance.”
Benge said the policy has been in effect since 2009.
It is only legal to burn yard waste such as tree limbs, leaves and grass. The OFD asks that everyone be courteous to their neighbors when burning, only burn small piles and be sure the yard waste that’s burning is dry so it produces less smoke. If a person is burning yard waste and the smoke is determined to be offensive, the fire may be extinguished with no citation issued.
As an alternative to burning, yard waste can be disposed of at no charge at the Ottumwa/ Wapello Landfill. The Recycling Center accepts grass clippings and leaves only. Leaves and yard debris placed on the curb for collection must be in the approved Ottumwa/Wapello brown paper yard waste bags. Brush and tree limbs set out for curbside collection must be cut into 36-inch lengths, bundled and tied into weights of less than 50 pounds. Limbs cannot exceed 3 inches in diameter.
Grills and outdoor fireplaces are acceptable for use unless they produce excessive smoke. The total fuel area for bonfires should not exceed 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height.
Call the fire department with questions or concerns about open burning at 641-683-0667.