The Town of Amherstburg is looking at updating its open air fires bylaw – which may actually expand the number of homeowners who are eligible to burn a ‘recreational’ fire in their backyard.

Fire Chief Bruce Montone presented the draft open air burning by-law to Amherstburg council Monday night – outlining why the town needs to revise the by-law.

The current by-law only permits open burning on farms and a few campsites.

But under the new by-law, more residents would be allowed to have a controlled fire in their yards, given they have a permit to do so.

The updated plan calls for an annual permit at a cost of $25, which homeowners will have to apply for through the town.

Amherstburg fire officials would do a site visit, and either approve or disallow fires in that yard, depending on the type of pit the homeowner wants to have, and if the clearance is 10 metres in all directions.

They would also make a recommendation about of appropriate fire pit for each yard.

Since Feb. 2016, the Town has received 54 complaints about open burns. It cost the fire department $12,480 to respond to those complaints. Of those, a total of 19 penalties were issued – which levied nearly $7,000 in fines. Montone insists this isn’t intended to be a revenue generator for the town.

“It really isn’t cost driven at all. It really has more to do with doing it properly, doing it safely and eliminating the conflict that exists when fires do occur currently.”

Proposed fines could range from $225 to $900 for large fires which require a number of firefighters to respond.

There will be three public meetings for information and education regarding existing and proposed by-laws. The first is Aug. 17 at the Libro Centre. The next session will be Sept. 12 at station three, with the final meeting to be held Sept. 26 at station two.