It's the time of year that see many small backyard fires being lit around the region. With leaves falling and pruning of dead wood from garden trees and scrubs. Backyard clean ups bring on the temptation to burn the material. Sitting by a crackling wood fire is a great way to keep warm and enjoy the outdoors during winter, but get ready for a fine if your backyard blaze is smoking out your neighbours or you have used prohibited materials in the fire pit.
Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council (CGRC) is advising residents that although there is no need for an approval at this time of year to burn off. Prohibited items, such as tyres, plastic, treated timber, paint and solvents are not to be burnt.
CGRC asks residents to take into consideration alternative ways to dispose of vegetation, and the impact smoke may have on neighbours and traffic. This includes considering the wind, weather, length of burn and material. Only dead and dry vegetation can be burnt as other items particularly treated pine can be hazardous to health.
Residents are urged to stay with the fire while it is lit and have resources on had to put it out and not light a fire in gutters or on road surfaces.
Council does have the ability to regulate fires under the provisions of the Clean Air Regulations (under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997), should a fire cause air pollution or contain prohibited items.
Burning is prohibited during Total Fire Bans or on No Burn Days.
Below is a list of the 10 things you should never burn in your backyard fire pit.
Anything Plastic - Burned plastic releases toxic chemicals fumes like dioxins, furans and styrene gas into the air that are bad for you and the environment.
Accelerants - The whole idea of a backyard fire pit is to create a place for friends and family to gather, relax and enjoy each other. It's best to take a calm approach to lighting the fire as well. If the backyard fire isn't roaring, you may be tempted to chemically help it along. Accelerants like gas or other flammable liquids are too unpredictable and can cause explosions. Don't risk it.
Magazines - Magazines, junk mail and coloured gift-wrapping paper may seem like harmless items to burn in a backyard fire pit. But the ink printed on the paper releases toxic fumes when burned. Recycle magazines and junk mail instead.
Wooden Pallets - This may come as a surprise, but wooden pallets are NOT a good option to fuel a fire pit. Some wood pallets are treated with a chemical called methyl bromide (labelled with the initials MB), which can be released into the air when the wood burns. Unless you know for sure that the pallet wasn't treated with chemicals, it's best to use something else in your fire pit.
Particleboard - Inexpensive furniture is often made of particleboard. Burning particleboard may sound like a good idea if you have some busted furniture sitting around, but the particleboard is held together by high-strength adhesives that are often not safe to burn because they emit toxic gasses.
Painted Wood - When wood is painted, it's best not to burn it because it may give off toxic fumes. And if the wood is very old, you could be burning lead-based paint, which would be very toxic!
Cardboard - Cardboard seems like an innocuous material, but that's not always the case. Cardboard can cause a surge of fire that could injure anyone sitting or standing too close. Cardboard also releases chemicals into the air from the ink printed on the boxes.
Garden Weeds/Green Waste - You might be tempted to dispose of yard weeds in your backyard fire pit. Don't! Some plants contain Urushiol, (pistachios, cashews, mango, to name a few). Burning the irritant oil in the plants, releases fumes into the air. This can cause lung irritation and severe allergic respiratory problems.
Green or Soft Wood - Burning green or softwoods (pine, fire, and cypress) can cause a lot of smoke that will make it unpleasant to sit around the fire.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.