Burning trash is illegal in Saugerties

Photo by Will Dendis

While neither the town nor the village has ordinances prohibiting open burning of garbage or brush, both are subject to state laws that limit or prohibit burning of trash, leaves, tree limbs or scrap lumber. Because Saugerties has a population greater than 20,000, virtually all open burning is prohibited under state law.

The town’s fire law concerns storage and transportation of explosive or flammable materials and does not cover garbage, brush or camp fires.

Building Inspector Alvah Weeks said the 2010 census shows the town population, including the village, is 23,453. When a village is entirely within a town, its population is included in the total population for the town. Under the Department of Environmental Conservation regulations, no open burning is permitted within towns whose population exceeds 20,000, Weeks said.


Small cooking fires or campfires less than three feet high and four feet in length, width or diameter are permitted. In smaller towns, brush and tree branches may be burned, though all burning is prohibited everywhere between March 15 and May 15.

The people who light fires must supervise them; fires may not be left unattended, according to the DEC regulations. A link to a copy of the regulation is posted on the town of Saugerties website, https://saugerties.ny.us/content.

Village building inspector Eyal Saad said the village has had no violations of the fire laws. The village does not have a law relating to open fires, but relies on the DEC regulations.

Centerville-Cedar Grove Fire Chief Randy Ricks said the area is exceptionally dry after a nearly snowless winter with less than average precipitation. Fire danger is high, and the area suffered two substantial brush fires in February, one at Smith Road and Glasco Turnpike and the other at Hommelville Road, Ricks said.

In general, the DEC or the police enforce the fire laws, Ricks said. However, he will respond to complaints about improper fires and require that they be extinguished.

Police Chief Louis Barbaria said the town police enforce the laws against open fires, which are prohibited in the town law as well as the state regulations. Depending on the size of the fire, the property owner may get a warning or could be issued a summons. With the high fire danger during dry periods, it is important that fires be kept under control.

In particular, Barbaria noted, the law changed once the town passed the 20,000 population mark. People are not permitted to burn brush or leaves, and only small, controlled fires are permitted.

“A lot of people still have burn barrels,” Barbaria said. “They may not be aware that it is illegal to burn brush or leaves.”

While there have been no violations this year, police found several during 2011, Barbaria said. Depending on the circumstances, police may warn the individual that burning is illegal or issue a summons, he said.