For those of us who have been around for awhile, it's not too very hard to remember every home in the neighborhood having a burn barrel in the backyard.

During those times back in the '60s and '70s it was more than likely that most of the household trash made its way into the burn barrel rather than ending up in the dump.  Yes, along with burn barrels there were also dumps at that point in time and transfer stations were things a decade or so off into the future.

Even though burn barrels were widely used and commonly known throughout Maine neighborhoods back then, they were a nuisance. One can only imagine what mama had to say while cooking dinner with a window open and the smoke of burning used rags  wafting into the kitchen.

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For good reason, burn barrels were outlawed in most Maine cities and towns when transfer stations and places like the PERC plant in Orrington came into existence.

Today, we have backyard fire pits terrorizing neighborhoods.

Yes, there's nothing like the calming feeling of sitting around a fire with a cold one in hand on a Saturday night. Watching the flames snap, crackle and pop with a circle of friends or that special someone is especially rewarding after a hard week at work.

But, where does the smoke go?  It has to go somewhere, right?

It makes its way into your neighbor's home, even if the window isn't open, it makes its way inside. It makes eyes water, ruins dinner, stinks up the house and kicks people and animals with asthma into a fit.

When there's more than one backyard fire pit burning it turns a neighborhood into a civil war encampment.

But unlike burn barrels, fire pits are not entirely against the law. For instance, City of Bangor code 116-4, Rules for Open Burning states:

For any outdoor burning in an outdoor fireplace, portable fire bowl, chiminea, or recreational fire, whether or not a permit is required, the person keeping the fire shall be subject to the following rules:

A. A responsible person shall be present at all times.

B. The smoke shall not be such as to create a public nuisance.

C. A method of extinguishment, such as a fire extinguisher or garden hose, shall be available at all times, and all embers and hot ashes shall be extinguished and removed or wet down at the close of the fire.

D. Outdoor burning is allowed only if winds are not greater than 10 miles per hour and the State Forest Division has classified the fire danger at a Class One or Class Two.

E. There shall be no burning of trash; household garbage; cardboard; plastic; foam construction material or debris; coated, painted or pressure-treated wood; plywood; particle board or wood with glue on it; or wet, rotted, diseased or moldy wood or leaves.

F. For outdoor burning on public property or private property belonging to another, the person responsible for the burning shall provide evidence that the appropriate government agency, property owner or property owner's agent has given permission for the outdoor burning.

G. Recreational fires shall be in a pit or tire ring less than three feet in diameter and with material piled less than two feet in height.

H. Recreational fires shall be maintained at a safe distance, as determined by the Fire Chief, or his designee, from combustible materials, including trees, decks, buildings, fences, and awnings, and from property lines.

So what happens if one feels that the smoke from a neighbor's fire pit is a "public nuisance" and calls the fire department?  It would probably come down to the situation and who was sent to handle it.  More than likely someone from your local fire department would stop by to see for themselves, and then make a determination as to what to do, if anything.

Even though it's not the neighborly thing to do and at times downright selfish, we're guessing that more than likely the next door neighbor's fire pit will be burning brightly again the next night.

Keep the inhaler handy.

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