New Rules Prohibit Backyard Burning of Household Trash

April 9, 2012, 2:25 PM HST · Updated April 9, 2:26 PM
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Open fire, file photo by Wendy Osher

By Wendy Osher

The state is implementing new restrictions on the open burning of yard waste and household trash, also known as “backyard burning”.

State officials say open burning has been illegal on O‘ahu since June 1, 1973.  The new rules, now prohibit backyard burning on all islands including Maui, according to authorities with the state Department of Health.

Maui Fire Prevention Bureau Capt. Paul Haake said the department continues to field inquiries about the practice of burning household trash, and had discouraged it even when it was still legal.

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According to Capt. Haake, the Fire Prevention receives about one call per month in regards to people wanting to burn yard waste and trash; but numerous calls per month in regards to people complaining about smoke issues from such fires.

In addition to smoke blowing into neighbor’s homes, other complaints involve the threat of the fires spreading to nearby residences.

“With the greater availability of alternative means of waste disposal such as improved trash services, recycling, and composting on all islands, backyard burning is no longer a necessity,” health officials stated in a press release today.

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Those found in violation of the open burning rules are subject to fines of up to $10,000 per violation, per day.

In the past, there was a temporary ban in place on backyard burning on Maui, implemented by then Fire Chief Clayton Ishikawa because of drought-like conditions, said Capt. Haake.

The state Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch extended the reach of restrictions beyond O’ahu by amending HRS 11-60.1.  State health officials say the changes are aimed at improving the Agricultural Burning Permit process and also allow for the expanded issuance of field citations.

This rule does not apply to cooking fires or to individuals with agricultural-burn permits issued by the Health Department’s Clean Air Branch.

Open burning for the heating of water for residential bathing purposes is also prohibited.

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