Myrtle Beach City Council is poised to pass an ordinance that would ban all open burning in city limits.
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance The ordinance – which allows the use of patio wood-burning units such as chimineas or patio warmers – at the March 12 meeting. Mayor John Rhodes said there is no reason the ordinance wouldn’t pass Tuesday.
“There’s too much exposure that’s out there and we don’t need to have something happen that could be avoided by using a bit of ... common sense,” he said.
Some residents complained about their neighbors burning yard or construction waste, which was unpleasant for some and caused issues for others with asthma, said city attorney Tom Ellenburg at the March 12 meeting.
“When you are in an urban city, it’s challenging to have open unregulated burning of leaves or construction [waste],” Councilman Wayne Gray said of the need for the ordinance. “It’s a good thing to regulate.”
Battalion Chief Bruce Arnel said they had been considering the ban for a while.
“Even prior to the fire in Carolina Forest, the city of Myrtle Beach City Council was considering [an open burning ban],” Arnel said.
During the March 12 council meeting, fire Chief Alvin Payne said the department wasn’t seeking to limit recreational fires.
“We tried to implement a policy that still allows you to use your fire pit,” he said.
Myrtle Beach will pick up yard debris for free if it is bagged and placed at the curb. At the meeting Rhodes said there were some residents who seemed to prefer to burn their yard waste.
“It’s easier to rake and burn than it is to rake and bag,” he said.
The ordinance would also define false fire alarms as a public nuisance. A separate ordinance would charge a $200 fee for each false alarm beginning with the fourth occurrence within a year’s time.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department reported more than 1,500 false alarms annually, with most coming from an estimated 20 to 30 businesses.
“We’re not trying to make money on it, but we’re trying to drive home the point to get the alarms fixed,” said city manager Tom Leath at the March 12 meeting.