Virginia Fire Chiefs Sound Alarm on Mulch Legislation

February 22, 2018

Virginia fire chiefs are speaking out against proposed state legislation to loosen rules on how near to a building that mulch can be placed.

WTOP-FM reports that the bills would prevent local governments from enacting rules on the distance between mulch and a building.

Loudoun County Fire Chief Keith Brower said mulch and wood chips put right next to a building can quickly catch fire and cause an inferno.

According to Washington State University, coarse textured mulch is less flammable thank mulch made of organic material. Mulch containing rubber is the most likely to combust and all mulch should be kept moist to reduce the likelihood of a fire.

After a large mulch fire at an apartment complex in 2014, the city of Harrisonburg enacted an ordinance requiring that mulch or wood chips not be placed within 18 inches of certain buildings.

After the General Assembly passed a bill that would have invalidated the ordinance, the city reworked it.

Now lawmakers are trying to modify the state law again with two bills, Senate Bill 972 and House Bill 1595.The bills affect larger residential and commercial buildings, allowing mulch to be placed anywhere on the property without restriction on the proximity to a structure.

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