Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake fire ordinance proposed


The Medical Lake Fire Department doesn’t usually have a lot of problems managing outdoor burning in the city.

In most cases, when firefighters or Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies ask people to extinguish illegal fires, folks oblige. However there are a few incidents with repeat offenders or people who disregard the request to put out the blaze.

During the June 20 Medical Lake City Council meeting, Fire Chief Jason Mayfield submitted an ordinance for the city’s municipal code regulating portable outdoor fireplaces and recreational fires in the city, as well as giving firefighters and SCSO deputies the ability to enforce regulations and forward reports to the prosecuting attorney for charges.

Although the Fire Department enforces International Fire Code and Revised Code of Washington laws regarding outdoor burning, the city’s current municipal code does not clearly define which personnel can enforce regulations, which Mayfield said makes it difficult for firefighters and deputies to impose the law.

“It’s nothing different from what we’ve been doing before,” he added.

According to the ordinance, portable outdoor fireplaces shall include a built-in chimney. Fireplaces shall not be operated within six feet of single-family residence and duplexes, and 25 feet for multi-family and commercial properties. The area between the device and structure shall be cleared of combustible material.

For recreational fires, the blaze must be contained in a manufactured or constructed container built from non-combustible material. The fire shall not exceed a total area of three feet in diameter and have less than two-foot flames, and not be located within 25 feet of any structure or combustible materials.

Fuel for both recreational fires and portable fire devices shall be limited to clean, dry firewood.

The ordinance also states that water source and a person capable of extinguishing the flames must be present at all times. Fires may be restricted or banned based on air quality concerns, fire danger or red flag warning conditions.

“We’re not trying to make people’s lives hard,” Mayfield said. “Part of our job is to make sure the city is safe.”

Council voted 4-1 to pass the first reading of the ordinance. Councilwoman Jessica Roberts, who voted against the ordinance, suggested it be tabled to allow council to ask questions and do more research.

Councilwoman Shirley Maike said the problem with tabling the ordinance was by the time council voted to adopt the document, it would be “toward the end of fire season.”

Council is expected to vote on the ordinance’s second reading at its July 18 meeting.

Al Stover can be reached at


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