Burlington Board of Health cautions against COVID fire pits, City Council to discuss Monday

Burlington City Council members will tackle a resolution Monday to permit fire pits during the winter months, though the Board of Health suggested finding another way to endure the pandemic.  

Vermont’s winter weather could make it difficult for people to socialize outdoors, which is encouraged to minimize the spread of COVID-19. City Councilors Joan Shannon, Chip Mason, Sarah Carpenter and Karen Paul sponsored a resolution that would allow residents to apply for a permit to burn firewood outdoors. The Burlington Board of Health raised health concerns over the proposal

“The Board of Health believes this resolution would put the health of nonconsenting neighbors and community members at risk during a global pandemic of COVID-19 in which those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, heart disease and other cardiovascular and pulmonary issues are at highest risk,” the board wrote in a letter.

The board expressed specific concern for the city’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) population, who experience a higher prevalence of asthma in Vermont, according to the letter. 

Other concerns expressed by the board include:

  • The possibility of fine particulate matter infiltrating older Burlington homes.
  • Potential inequities that could be exposed, as outdoor fires may be more conducive to some residents than to others. 
  • The risk of large gatherings. 

“If this resolution passes, we would like to be included in the creation of the permitting and community education process, and to provide public health guidance on information to be collected so we can track those applying, the areas affected and the health impact on community members,” the board wrote.

More:As winter looms and COVID rages on, Burlington considers allowing outdoor fires

Contact Maleeha Syed at mzsyed@freepressmedia.com or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89