Latrobe sets fine for violating city fire pit regulations
Residents who violate Latrobe’s fire pit ordinance will face a $50 fine under an amended version of the law approved at council’s Monday meeting.
The fine and related penalty provisions provide some teeth for city police, the city manager or code enforcement officer Ann Powell to enforce restrictions on small recreational fires set forth when the ordinance originally was approved 2½ years ago. “We didn’t have a penalty phase” in the initial ordinance, Powell noted.
Residents must apply to the city for a permit, which costs $15, to have an approved fire pit on their property. The permit can be renewed after five years, but it may be revoked after three violations.
“We don’t want to punish the people who are doing the right thing because of a few people who are doing the wrong thing,” Mayor Rosie Wolford said of fire pit enforcement in the city.
Under the provisions of the amendment, a resident has five days to pay the fine upon notice of a violation. The resident can appeal the fine to council within the same period but still must pay the $50 upfront.
City police and fire officials have always had the power to order a recreational fire to be abated or extinguished if it is deemed a nuisance.
According to the city’s online permit application, a fire pit must be no larger than 4 feet in diameter or 13 square feet, and it can’t be placed within 15 feet of a property line, structure, road, tree or other combustible material. That distance can be as little as 10 feet if the fire is fueled by propane, natural gas or charcoal briquettes in a commercially produced, non-combustible enclosure meeting Underwriters Laboratory standards.
Only wood or clean-burning fossil fuels may be used in a fire pit — to cook, create warmth or for ceremonial purposes — Latrobe fire Chief John Brasile has noted. He said some people have tried to burn prohibited materials such as grass and plastic.
Brasile said any citizen who sees a suspected violation of the recreational fire ordinance should contact 911 so the incident can be documented and city police and firefighters can respond.
He pointed out that, under illegal burning regulations, the city could have chosen to assess a fine of up to $600 for a fire pit violation.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .