With the arrival of spring and warmer weather on the horizon, many Muscatine residents are thinking ahead to outdoor activities and backyard gatherings. A standard at many such gatherings is a fire pit or backyard bonfire.

However, having a backyard fire without the proper permit can lead to a $125 fine for residents.

An outdoor fireplace permit can be obtained from the Muscatine Fire Department at no cost by visiting http://www.muscatineiowa.gov/forms.aspx?FID=105. According to the City’s website, “This permit is for the use of outdoor fireplaces designed for burning small quantities of firewood or charcoal for recreational purposes. The burning of leaves, building materials, yard waste, trash, or any liquids or plastic is prohibited. Open burning is permitted only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and midnight, and must be constantly attended.”

Residents with larger yards, one acre and over, may apply for an open burning permit.

The City’s website describes the open burning permit: “Individuals, who have property of one acre or more, or developed for other approved purposes may be issued permits to burn leaves, organic matter, brush and trees, gathered from that property, but not for building construction materials, trash, or other refuse.

“Open burning is permitted only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., and must be constantly attended.”

Open burning permits may be registered for at http://www. muscatineiowa.gov/forms.aspx?FID=104.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hartman says the permits allow the department to talk with and further educate the public. “With the permits, we have an opportunity to touch base and have some education. This is important because there are things people do not think about, such as placement of the outdoor fireplace, how close it is to their home, and what types of items can be burned. There are also time restrictions. It all comes down to being a good neighbor.”

The open burning permit has a one-time fee of $25 to obtain. Both permits are not valid until received from the Fire Department but are valid from January 1 through December 31 of their issuing year.

Additional restrictions apply to both the outdoor fireplace permit and the open burning permit. A complete list of restrictions and guidelines can be found at the City of Muscatine’s website at www.MuscatineIowa.gov.

Residents who do not have access to the internet can obtain either permit by filling out the same form at the Muscatine Fire Department at 312 East 5th St., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.to 5 p.m.