As previously reported, the Village Council, during its February retreat, discussed policy changes to make the island as fireproof as possible in the wake of the Lighthouse Landing fire. One of those policies regulates the use of pine straw and goes into effect on May 1, 2022. A copy of the adopted ordinance can be viewed HERE.
Despite the Department of Public Safety’s training and equipment, the unique geography and means of accessing the island by ferry from the mainland create a situation in which a large-scale fire affecting multiple structures would be difficult to control with the personnel and assets readily available on the island during a normal shift of the Department.
The use of pine straw and other ground cover materials with a fire rate of spread of more than 24 inches per minute as determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) presents a serious fire hazard and threatens structures.
“Pine straw is seven to ten times more combustible than any other mulching material, said Public Safety Director Alan May, “and natural resins in pine straw make it very flammable. An errant cigarette can ignite it in a matter of seconds and if it happens to be close to a structure, the structure will ignite as well.”
For these reasons, the Village will begin regulating the use of pine straw and other ground cover materials with a fire rate of spread more than 24 inches per minute as determined by the NIST.
The ordinance states that “no pine straw or any other landscape material with a fire rate spread more than 24 inches per minute shall be placed, kept, or stored within 25 feet of any building or other structure with a combustible exterior.”
This ordinance does not apply to any landscaping materials placed prior to the effective date (May 1, 2022); however, such landscaping material may not be placed with nonconforming materials after that date.