Turns out that outdoor fireplaces are illegal in Denver

Two Platt Park residents were enjoying a late-winter evening, sitting on their patio with a fire in the chimenea warding off the chill, when they suddenly got some unexpected visitors. A Denver fire truck had pulled up and unloaded a full complement of firefighters suited up for a big blaze. Turns out that chimeneas — and all of those other popular outdoor fireplaces and fire pits — are illegal in Denver.

"You can't have an open burn without a permit," says Lieutenant Phil Champagne, department spokesman. "Home Depot doesn't tell you that."

But a few people are aware of the ban, including Mrs. Kravitz types who frequently alert the department of illegal burns. "People don't hesitate to call us," Champagne notes. "They snitch on their neighbors all the time."

While some of those neighbors might be motivated by nothing more than spite, many have serious health concerns. According to Familiesforcleanair.org, wood-smoke pollution is even more hazardous than secondhand smoke from cigarettes, aggravating asthma and causing cancer; the site urges people to alert their local representatives to the dangers of outdoor fireplaces.

And when the Denver Fire Department gets a call, it has to answer. "There's a great tendency to neglect those kinds of things," Champagne points out, adding that on windy days, like the ones that Denver has recently experienced, fires can quickly get out of hand. "It seems harsh, but you never know." Still, the firefighters who answer the call try to deal gently with homeowners, issuing a warning not to light a fire again unless they get a special permit signed by both the fire department and the Denver Department of Environmental Health. Only a handful have ever bothered to apply for those, Champagne says. And if the fire department gets called to an address a second time, a homeowner who gets hot under the collar could face a $999 fine or six months in jail.

The Platt Parkers don't know who turned them in, or why. "It seems like a silly use of the department's resources," says the man of the house. "Would it be legal if I burned pot?" He's not testing that theory — but he's found another way to get revenge on the nosy neighbors. He's bought a smoker, which is definitely legal in Denver, and fires it up several times a week, filling the neighborhood with the scent of roasting meat.

He can only hope the snitches are vegetarians.

Where there's smoke, there's ire.

 
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31 comments
outdoor medical kits
outdoor medical kits

HeyI really agree on what you say here.Hope We can be friends to exchange idea on this subject.Thanks.

Kevin Johansen
Kevin Johansen

If outdoor fireplaces are outlawed, only outlaws will have outdoor fireplaces. And I'm OK w/ that.

LCP380
LCP380

If they banned these here in Michigan, we wouldn't have any campers in our State Parks. This is fun in our State, cooking over an open fire.

R C
R C

I think your attitude would change if an irresponsible neighbor did damage to your property because they couldn't control a fire.

R C
R C

An attitude like this is why police can't get witnesses to cooperate in crime investigation.

R C
R C

It is VERY distressing to read the Denver Fire Department spokesman using the term "snitch" for someone who calls to report a violation of the city code. We have enough problems with the anti-snitching culture. We don't need city officials denoting a citizen doing the right thing as something negative. Lt. Champagne, shame on you.

Bumperjones
Bumperjones

Outdoor fireplaces are illegal, but illegal aliens are'nt. Coincidence, I don't think so.

brian
brian

what a bunch of bullshit.. If you are such a big douche to rat out your neighbor YOU SUCK..GIVE IT A BREAK! How do you people like living in NAZI germany or the soviet union.. this is an absolute joke...

tweek
tweek

Gotta agree with Denvergal. The people on our block are careful not to smoke out the neighbors - that's what you should do in a neighborhood and it's no big deal. We all have to keep our windows open in the summer so we try to be considerate of others. I even replaced my old charcoal grill with a gas one. Unfortunately, the creepy renters next door throw buckets of wood chips on their grill and the resulting billows of wood smoke make my eyes water and my lungs constrict inside our house every time they grill. Wood smoke is nasty and I now know what asthma must feel like. Our deck is unusable in the evenings, as they keep that grill fired up from 6 to 9:30 every night. I'd be thrilled if I could turn them in.

Perhaps the neighbors in the story should have said something before they reported the fire pit, but the guy taking revenge by trying to smoke out everyone around him is being an a-hole. Of course, maybe the neighbors already knew this and that's why they didn't approach him directly.

Denvergal
Denvergal

Ms Priscilla, this is not about barbeques. It's about fire pits and chimineas. And this isn't just about people with medical conditions. Some people don't like breathing smoke, just like some people don't like listening to the neighbor's dog bark all night.

The testy comment is for those who suggest that they should have the right to have fires in densely populated Denver, no matter the impact on a neighbor...that a neighbor should move if he doesn't like it. By that argument, a person should move if he doesn't like his neighbor's loud music or loud dogs, or weedy lawn. All the rights, but no responsibilities....

Priscilla
Priscilla

I don't understand the testy comment. He broke the law. When he realized it he complied with the law. ~If anyone has medical conditions that are that severe, respectfully, the onis is on them to live in a place which suits them. Bar-b-ques are very normal and traditional in American cities.

Denvergal
Denvergal

Ah, yes, the great U.S.A. where Christian values are spouted everywhere until you ask someone to make a sacrifice for the sake of the greater good...

Screw those kids with asthma! Old people with emphysema? Tell 'em to move the hell out of the neighborhood! *I* should be able to do whatever I want! This is AMEREEEKA.

Don Byers
Don Byers

stop crying move somewhere it is not an issue, no one forced you to live there

Arby
Arby

I wonder if the guy who got the smoker has any idea what it's like to have asthma. Talk to your friends and family with asthma and find out how funny they think it is to have to breathe smoke all summer. Chimneys are usually on roofs for a reason. And fires at ground level, during the summer, when everyone's windows are open? You aren't just polluting your own air! It's just selfish to think it's okay to do that to your neighbors in the middle of the city, especially when you could send one of them to the hospital!

rolo
rolo

so a chimenea on my back porch is illegal, but a charcoal bbq grill is not... so I could merely shorten the legs on my Weber grill effectively giving me a chimenea... or just a "short grill" if the FD shows up... this then is perfectly legal? seems like a law full of holes...

David Garner
David Garner

Move to Lakewood. It's legal here, no permit required unless you are in Jeff County open space areas.

Vicky
Vicky

I would think that Denver and any other city that bans chimeneas and outdoor fire pits, would require that any store (Home Depot, Lowes..etc) selling these products, tell the consumer that they need a special permit. That would only make sense!!

MollyS
MollyS

Doesn't matter if it is a law. It's a stupid law.

We are talking about people sitting in their own back yard. What is happening in Denver? Is it because of all the Californians, or is it the woefully politically correct atmosphere that has descended on the city in recent years?

Joe
Joe

Open burning is illegal in almost all cities, and some counties. Even being out in the middle of the country somewhere doesn't necessarily make it legal.

Now, as to gas grills in apartments and condos...... Normally, any grill, barbecue, etc., that uses a gas tank bigger than one pound (the size a hand-held propane torch uses) is illegal on your apartment/condo balcony or patio. Two reasons for this are that a gas fire on your balcony usually goes right up the side of the building and takes all the floors above with it. The other reason is that a propane tank leak inside the building is liable to cause an explosion and destroy the building.

Either situation will kill your fellow residents.

Doesn't matter if they sell it at Home Depot. You can't use it.

.

MollyS
MollyS

Oh please. This is the biggest thing we have to worry about in Denver. Besides, snitches stink.

AgendaBuster
AgendaBuster

Wow, I learned something today. How about a list of cities these fireplaces are illegal?I'm very interested in Fort Collins for instance.

G David Salmeron
G David Salmeron

They are just illegal in the City of Denver. We can cook out in the State Parks.

G David Salmeron
G David Salmeron

I wouldn't use "snitch" for someone turning in someone lighting a fire. What if they were drinking and kicked it over by accident? Many fires get out of control quickly and can burn someone's home down, or maybe a neighborhood. But I do think its funny that this guy will use his smoker. Go for it!

R C
R C

My friend's garage burned to the ground because his neighbor couldn't control the fire in an outdoor fire pit. That is what the law is designed to prevent. If my friend's neighbor had applied for the proper permitting, the fire department could have made sure the guy had it set up safely so it didn't endanger my friend's property. Throwing around accusations of being in NAZI Germany is one of the most irresponsible and over-the-top things you can say. Why don't you grow up?

Cory Albrecht
Cory Albrecht

So, like, if your neighbour was running a sex slavery ring out of his house, you shouldn't rat him out to the police? What if he was running a meth lab in his basement - you still shouldn't rat him out?

Laws are generally made for a reason, harm prevent being one them which is why smoking in public places is restricted these days because we know of the cancer dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke. Now whether or not a law is unfair (perhaps because the harm is tiny, unlike secondhand smoke) is something that needs to be debated on an individual basis for each law, but if you agree that these harm-prevention laws, in general, are a good thing, why would you not call the enforcement agency on them if they keep doing it after a friendly neighbour-to-neighbour chat?

Cory Albrecht
Cory Albrecht

The onus is on the person who has the bad asthma, for example, to live somewhere else?

Do you say the same thing about secondhand tobacco smoke? Because that's the perfect analogy for this.

Before there were no-smoking laws, virtually every bar, club, pub, restaurant, etc... allowed smoking.In the 1950s 50% of adults smoke but by the 1980s it was down to 33% and by the 1990s when most regions started enacting no-smoking bylaws the number of smokers was down to 25%. The thing is, the number of bars, restaurants that still allowed smoking was not 25%, but very nearly 100%, so telling a person who didn't like secondhand smoke to just go elsewhere was a laughable non-solution.

Telling the person who wants to get away from BBQ or wood smoke to just move away is also laughable non-solution. What if there is no place they can move to within a reasonable commute to their job? Are you willing to pay them what they make at their current job until they find new job with an equal or better wage so they can move away? Are you going to pay them a travel allowance so they can come back and visit their family and friends in the area at no extra cost as if they had never moved away?

KSinz
KSinz

Where did the Christian reference come from? Is it just because they are the secret enemy out to get everyone and rule the world through secret underground deals while oppressing all super enlightened people like yourself? Get over it there's good and shitty Christians just like there is good and shitty atheist.

Also what kids with asthma? Now your just putting people in that may or may not even exist. How about their neighbors respect them and come and ask them about the problem with smoke? Or no just call the police, no sense in talking out your problems with the party in question when you can jump to crazy escalated conclusions.

Cory Albrecht
Cory Albrecht

Though I just realized that you could possibly telling the people who want chimineas or open fires to move. Your one-liner is a little vague :-)

Having an open fireplace in is a small thing to give up for your neighbour's health, and something I hope that everybody would be willing to do out of the goodness of their heart. If having an open-pit fireplace is so important to them then they can move out to the country where the lower population density will ensure that there won;t be enough smoke to cause asthmatics and others problems.

Cory Albrecht
Cory Albrecht

Why is the onus on the person so move elsewhere to get away from woodsmoke pollution causing asthma and other problems? Are you going to pay them what they currently make until they find a new job so they can move elsewhere? What about a gasoline travel allowance so they can come back and visit friends and family at no extra cost as if they had never moved away?

In the 90s when no-smoking bylaws started appearing only 25% of adults smoked but 100% of bars and restaurants allowed smoking so telling a person who wanted to avoid secondhand cigarette smoke to just not go to a place that allows smoking was a ridiculous non-solution because in practice it meant that they would never be able to go out for dinner or a beer with friends.

In the exact same way, just telling a person with asthma to move out the area that has lots of wood fires is an utterly laughable non-solution which is really nothing more than a big "Screw you" exhibiting little empathy or compassion for those around you.

Priscilla
Priscilla

The issue seems to be open fire, which could be a hazzard, not smoke.

Priscilla
Priscilla

Maybe Petco should inquire about what kind of dog that leash is for, or 7-11 what that lighter is for, or liquor stores ask if you plan on drinking and driving. . .

 
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