The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued notice to the city of Waxahachie and the Waxahachie Fire Department that effective immediately, “open air burning will no longer be allowed for residents inside the city limits of Waxahachie.”

According to the news release from the WFD, “The only outdoor burning allowed (will be) for recreational or ceremonial purposes, in the noncommercial preparation of food, or exclusively as a means to provide warmth in cold weather.”

Under the terms of the TCEQ regulation, campfires, bonfires, fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces and cooking fires are allowed, but may not contain plastics, lumber, treated lumber, construction or demolition materials not made of wood, or any type of oils, asphalt, rubber or chemical materials.

“Chemical materials includes those of both natural and synthetic natures,” the release states.

Any bonfires or ceremonial fires will need to be approved by fire personnel - such as the fire marshal - prior to ignition.

Commercially, TCEQ does allow property owners or their representatives (such as a contractor) to burn materials gathered in the clearing of land; however, this burning is only allowed if “no viable alternative to burning exists.”

Furthermore, such burning activities are subject to strict regulations. Specifically, the burning must be conducted downwind or at least 300 feet from any structure located on adjacent properties (unless prior written consent from adjoining landowners has been acquired), must be conducted while the wind speed is between 6 and 23 miles per hour, and the materials being burnt “must have been generated from the property where the burn will take place.”

According to the release, structures include both residences and businesses, and like the ceremonial fires and bonfires, any such burn will have to be approved beforehand by WFD personnel.

The policy changes are to bring the city into compliance with TCEQ guidelines regarding outdoor burning, Fire Marshal Dennis Crecelius said, adding that residents and the city may be fined if they do not comply.

The state regulation driving the new policy states that open air burning - aside from the exceptions previously stated - cannot be conducted in an area with garbage pick-up, even if the waste removal service for that area does not pick up items typically burned such as yard waste.

Instead of burning such waste, residents may pursue other viable alternatives such as composting, chipping, mulching or taking their waste to the landfill or Waxahachie Convenience Station for disposal.

“This is a big change from the way outdoor burning has been conducted in past years in the city of Waxahachie, and because of TCEQ regulations, we all must comply,” Crecelius said.

For questions about the new policy or the state regulations behind it, contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at (817) 588-5800 or the Waxahachie Fire Department at (972) 937-1200.

For questions about brush pickup or disposal at the landfill or Waxahachie Convenience Station, contact the Waxahachie Health Department at (972) 937-7330.