As the weather changes, it turns warmer and many people start doing more outdoor burning to include yard debris, leaf piles or even bon fires at night. There are legal and safety guidelines for outdoor burning activities regardless of where your property is located. The City of Madison has an ordinance that affects city residents when it comes to outdoor burning. Because most houses and properties in the city are close together, the ordinance prohibits burning of yard debris, leaves, trash, etc. in the city limits. City crews will pick up bagged leaves and yard debris if left at the curb. The Florida Forest Service has regulations that govern outdoor burning; any burning pile should be less than eight feet in diameter or in a non-combustible container, must be more than 50 feet from a road, more than 25 feet from your house and 25 feet from any brush, wildland or combustible structure and at least 150 feet from any other occupied building. It is also illegal to burn household garbage including paper products, treated lumber, plastics, rubber materials, tires, pesticide, paint and aerosol containers. The Florida Forest Service can issue citations for illegal burning, which can include fines for said burning. Any outdoor burning must be conducted after 8 a.m., and be extinguished one hour prior to sunset. Use wire mesh to cover the container and clear an area around the container or around your burn pile to bare dirt to prevent sparks from causing any other fires. Never leave any fire unattended and keep a close eye on young children while burning. Keep a garden hose close by while you’re burning in order to extinguish any escaping fire or sparks. Use care when starting any fire and do not use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start your fire. Flammable liquids such as gasoline produce vapor that can ignite easily and sometimes with explosive results. Many people are injured by the flash fire that is caused by igniting gasoline or other flammable liquids. It is safer to use a match or lighter to ignite another fuel such as pine cones, dry pine straw or grass, etc. and add the larger yard debris after the fire gets started, building the fire slowly. Monitor the weather while burning and extinguish your fire if the wind conditions increase or if you must leave your fire for any reason. Unattended and escaped fires can cause damage to your property as well any others it travels to. You are responsible for any fire that you start and that includes any damages caused by a fire that travels onto another persons’ property. Call 911 if you lose control of your fire, uncontrolled fire can travel quickly depending on the fuel that is available. If you regain control of your fire you can always call back and notify 911. More information can be found at www.freshfromflorida.com. Please feel free to call (850) 973-5075 with any questions you may have about smoke alarms or to request assistance with any existing smoke alarms that you have in your home. Any group(s) that would like to have someone come out and speak about smoke alarms or any other fire safety topics, please contact Chief Bruce Jordan (850 )253-5117 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.