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Yard debris burning banned in Medford

I was wondering what the rules and regulations are regarding the burning of yard debris in Medford city limits?

— Colin O., Medford

We can sum up the city's rule on debris burning in three words: no, no, no.

OK, Colin, here are a few more words on that subject: In Medford's Municipal Code, under section 5.550 (Outside Burning), it states "No person shall start or maintain any fire outside a building (except for outdoor cooking fires, fires in outdoor fireplaces that meet the requirements of the Medford Building Department (and) freestanding fireplaces ..."

There is a loophole in this law that allows outside burning if you get a permit from the fire chief to do so.

Now, we know the fire chief is a pleasant fellow, but he's not likely to give you a permit to burn your yard debris. The city ordinance says permits may be granted for a variety of specific reasons, most of them related to operating agricultural enterprises — controlling blight, field burning and destroying diseased beehives, among them.

Permits may be granted also to the fire department for burning structures for training purposes or for "fire pits that are not considered a public nuisance." There is no reference to allowing fires for burning yard debris.

Even the granting of the permitted fires is restricted by such things as hazardous weather conditions or inversions that would trap the smoke in the valley.

There are other options, Colin: In Medford, Rogue Disposal provides green cans that can be used to get rid of relatively small (in size and quantity) amounts of yard waste. Rogue Disposal also collects bagged leaves in November and December. Biomass One, 2350 Avenue G in White City, accepts woody debris, which it burns to generate power. Cost ranges from $5 for a pickup load to $30 for a dump truck load.

Email question to youasked@mailtribune.com.