Commissioners approve updates to Fire Protection & Prevention Ordinance

Pres release from Buncombe Co. Government:

In a move that will align Buncombe County’s Fire Prevention and Protection Ordinance to North Carolina standards, the Board of Commissioners adopted revisions to the current ordinance and an updated open burning section.

A comprehensive analysis was conducted in late 2022 by North Carolina Fire Chief Consulting and opportunities for improvement were identified. A revision of the County’s fire prevention ordinance is was necessary to meet existing state laws. Recommendations were made to address the following:

  • Investigations and Requirements
  • Periodic Inspections Frequencies
  • Remediation
  • New Open Burning Section in Fire Prevention Ordinance

Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-121, a County may prohibit acts which are detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of its citizens and the peace and dignity of the county. On Aug. 9, 1994, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners adopted the Fire Prevention and Protection Ordinance. No major ordinance revisions or updates have occurred since 2007.

Highlighted changes include:

  • Non-substantive updates:
    • Electronic email delivery, annual report to Emergency Services Director, hazardous materials, appendices etc.
  • Failure to reasonably comply per violation penalty increase from $100 to $500 for life safety & $25 to $100 for all other violations.
  • Delete 30-47 Appendix B & replace in its entirety.
    • This appendix deals with required fire water flows for sprinklers and hydrants on commercial building projects.
  • Delete 30-48 Appendix D and replace in its entirety.
    • This appendix is critical to Buncombe County. It specifies minimum ingress, egress, cul-de-sac, and other Emergency Services access issues.

Click here to see the complete revised ordinance.

Open burning

A new section of the Fire Prevention Ordinance was added for open burning to improve clarity and inter-agency collaboration. This section is superseded by Chapter 4-1900 of Asheville-Buncombe Air Quality Agency Code. The open burning ordinance is controlled by the Air Quality Board with members appointed by the Commissioners and the City of Asheville.

What to know

  • It remains against Air Quality Ordinance to burn anything unnatural.
  • No NEW bans on burning are recommended or included in this.
  • Changes for residents at home:
    • Fire must be constantly attended.
  • Changes for land clearing:
    • The same setback rules currently in place and the land clearing burn must be constantly attended.
  • Permit Requirements when applicable have:
    • No cost / Contact (828) 250-6620
  • Bonfires and Recreational Fires
    • Bonfires
      • Stacked with a machine and are taller than six feet
      • Used as public events
      • Doesn’t include agriculture clean-up
      • Must have fire department truck and personnel per the fire code
  • Recreational Fires:
    • Typically, less than six feet in height & not contained by a fire pit
    • Attended as a public event & requires fire supervision
  • Exceptions and approved container and devices:
    • A backyard fire at a private residence does not require permits
    • An approved container is any device that keeps the fire from spreading at ground level
    • Must be 15 feet from a structure if the fire is under three feet in diameter and 25 feet if the fire is larger than three feet in diameter
    • Must be constantly attended until it is extinguished or out
  • Violations including civil and criminal penalties
    • The servicing fire department or the fire code official has extinguishment authority of any fire deemed dangerous by said official
    • Civil and/or criminal penalties can be issued starting at $500

Read more frequently asked questions here.

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