Doing yard work? Check with your city before you burn all of those sticks and leaves

ARAB, Ala. -- A lot of us are getting outside to clear away the last bits of winter from our yards, but before you put a match to that pile of leaves and sticks, you might want to check to see if it's legal.

"There's a process we have to follow, being in the city," Arab Fire Chief Ricky Phillips said.

Arab is one of those cities that has an ordinance governing outdoor burning. You can't burn leaves, sticks, and yard debris within the Arab city limits. "You can only burn debris for clearing off a site for construction of a new house or a building, or a recreation site, building power lines, or roads," Phillips said, "That sort of stuff." That's only with a written permit.

"It's just for air quality and safety of the public, and to take care of our neighbors," Phillips added.

In the Arab city limits, you can't get a burn permit for burning yard debris.

"As far as burning leaves and sticks, Public Works runs a route each month," Phillips said, "They're in a different part of town on a weekly basis. So you rake your leaves and sticks to the curb and the city will come by and pick them up to dispose of them for you."

The Arab Fire Department gets a few calls a day around this time of year about people burning in their yards. "We'll simply go out and educate them on the burn ordinance and ask them to put the fire out," Phillips said.

He adds most people are cooperative and understanding, and that's all the department asks.

Fire officials say if someone blatantly disregards the ordinance, they'll take action and that person will have to go before a judge.