According to Fire Chief James Defillippo, the fire code for the city of Rio Rancho has not been updated since 1990. That is in the process of changing.

Defillippo proposed to City Council on Jan. 12 to replace the current ordinance with a new one. “The fire burning regulations have not been updated for a while,” he said.

The new ordinance reads that it is illegal to burn leaves, green weeds, nuisance vegetation or garbage within the city limits. The reasoning for the change is that those items create more smoke than tumbleweeds or other dry weeds.

“We get several calls from residents about this and especially about the leaves. They just cause too much smoke,” Defillippo said.

The City Council voted yes to the first reading for the ordinance replacement. Law requires a second passage of the reading, which is planned for the next regular council meeting Jan. 26, with any changes going into effect 10 days after the second reading’s adoption.

Anyone conducting a burn is still required to have a burn permit. This includes bonfires at the high schools.

Councilor Bob Tyler was concerned about the high schools being notified about this, but Deputy Chief Mark Sandoval reassured it would be part of the fire code packet that all schools receive.

The vote was a unanimous yes for the first reading of the new code.

Residents can read the full code here.