Burning Trash

In my new job as Director of Emergency Services I am learning more and more about the Fire Department and the challenges of fire service in our community.  One of the most “combustible” issues is that of open burning.  Auburn Hills still permits some burning two times during the year:  the month of May and Oct 15 through Nov. 30 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to burn leaves and small amount of brush.  However, every year the Fire Department deals with complaints about burning and many of the complaints revolve not around the burning of brush and leaves but burning of trash.


Our local ordinance prohibits trash burning:

F-307.2.2 Prohibited Burning. …The burning of trash, garbage, or construction materials shall not be permitted. Open burning shall be prohibited on commercial, industrial, multiple-family residential and mobile home properties. …

and the State of Michigan law prohibits trash burning.  The Department of Environmental Quality has information on Open Burning and a new law that restricts what can be burned:

“…uncontrolled burning of plastic, rubber, foam, chemically treated wood, textiles, electronics, chemicals, or hazardous materials…”

I know that many people have burned trash forever.  In rural areas it was how people disposed of trash.  However, today’s trash isn’t just paper and some cardboard and we aren’t a rural community any more.  Many of the items we use everyday are made of plastics and polystyrene that present a serious health hazard when burned.  The ordinance and the state law both provide a penalty.  If police or fire investigate an incident of burning and determine that a person is burning trash or burning at a time not permitted, we can issue a ticket and bring a person before a court to answer a charge of improper burning. 

We now have good quality alternatives –the City’s waste hauler picks up the recyclable items and the City’s website give’s some ideas on how to dispose of other items that the recycler doesn’t take. 

At the Fire Department we want to educate people on newer and better ways to handle waste items that make for a healthier world for us all.

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.