Monadnock Street Resident Tries Old Standard - Burning the Leaves|
In days of yore, the smell of burning leaves was a hallmark of the
autumn season. Plumes of smoke and the strong smell of burning
signaled another season of leaves rapidly converting into carbon
dioxide and ash. Many towns within the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts still allow open burning of leaves with
was a day in late November 2012 in the Uphams Corner neighborhood of
Boston. The time of day was after sunset when light from the
burning leaves easily cuts through the dense darkness. Several
residents on the street had taken notice of "something wrong."
One was almost breathless:
"The smell of smoke was so strong in the house, I thought my house was
on fire. I checked every floor including the basement."
Another resident sitting on his front porch asked: "Do you smell that?
The alarming conditions had been caused by a Monadnock Street
resident who had chosen to burn his leaves in the driveway next to his
house. He was minding his own business, hard at work, carefully
raking his leaves into the open
fire, when a big red fire
engine stopped unceremoniously at his doorstep.
"A Small Fire" Extinquished
According to a fireman Matt from Engine 21 at 641 Columbia Rd, open
burning is prohibited in Boston except under specific circumstances
including: you must have a permit from the Fire Department and
the open fire must be a certain distance (75') from all other buildings.
Of course, neither condition was in place for this Uphams Corner
resident. The open flame was approximately 10-15 feet from his
home and he did not have a permit. So the fire department quickly
put out his fire ("It was small," they said).
Even if he had requested a permit, it would not have been
granted. Twenty-two (22) towns expressly prohibit open burning
due to the density of population and the close proximity of buildings
within their borders. including the towns of Boston, Brookline and
The responsibility for regulating open burning falls under
the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Protection and for local
control under the town's fire department.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides
a succinct and nicely formated primer on "open burning."
Open Burning: Answers to Your Burning Questions
Full text of 310 CMR 7.07
Another useful document is the Open Burning Clarifier DEP/ Reference 48:13
Your comments will be posted here and in the Letters to the Editor after processing.
Posted: December 8, 2012
Nancy J Conrad