Latrobe looks to add penalties to fire pit ordinance |

Latrobe looks to add penalties to fire pit ordinance

Jeff Himler
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
The City of Latrobe municipal building, at Jefferson and Main streets, is seen on Sept. 26, 2017.

Latrobe’s ordinance permitting residents to operate approved outdoor fire pits is going to undergo some tweaking.

City council on Monday authorized the solicitor to amend the 2 1/2-year-old law as officials noted it’s lacking language setting forth penalties for violations and a process that would allow the city to revoke a permit.

City manager Michael Gray said the solicitor and city administrators will discuss proposed provisions such as requiring inspection of a fire pit device before renewing a permit after its five-year expiration. The permit carries a $15 fee.

“It can’t be a homemade device,” Latrobe Fire Chief John Brasile said, explaining that residents can’t simply “throw an old rim from a car or truck in the middle of the yard.”

Police Chief John Sleasman said city officers and fire officials have the authority to make a resident extinguish a fire pit if they find it to be a problem. “We’re talking about being able to take a permit away from them after two warnings,” he said.

“I don’t think there have been any major problems,” Gray said of the ordinance, but added, “No one thought about penalties.”

Brasile said he was, on one occasion, challenged by a resident with a gun who was burning unauthorized debris in a large drum. He said he requests police accompaniment in such cases.

The fire chief noted that only wood or clean-burning fossil fuels may be burned in a fire pit — to cook, create warmth or for ceremonial purposes. “There’s no trash, leaves, rubbish or anything that’s plastic,” he said.

According to its online permit application, Latrobe also requires that a fire pit be no larger than 4 feet in diameter or 13 square feet, with combustible material taking up no more than 3 feet in diameter and 1 foot in height.

A fire pit is not permitted within 15 feet of a property line, structure, road, tree or other combustible material unless it’s fueled by propane, natural gas or charcoal briquettes in a commercially produced, non-combustible enclosure meeting Underwriters Laboratory standards. Then the minimum distance is 10 feet.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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