Just in time for chilly temperatures that might necessitate a bonfire to keep beachgoers warm, the National Park Service will be removing Ocean Beach's fire rings as part of a bonfire ban to continue until March of 2018.
It's all part of the Ocean Beach Fire Program, a plan for bonfire activity that went into effect in April of last year. In addition to rules like permit requirements for groups of over 25 revelers, in March of this year the NPS swapped the old Burning Manish fire rings for these Soviet-era evoking pits, in part because the agency can easily take them away.
That's just what they're doing as of Wednesday — taking them away, or locking them down, the NPS says. That's because November 1-the last day of February (they had to choose the one month without a concrete end date, didn't they?) is the official No-Burn Season on Ocean Beach, and bonfires are strictly forbidden.
According to the NPS, the period fires are allowed "aligns with when demand from the public for fires is the highest." The no fire period is set to avoid fires during the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's Winter Spare the Air season, which is "when particulate matter pollution from wood burning and other sources can reach unhealthy levels in the Bay Area."
During the no-burn period, the fire pits will "will either be removed from the beach or remain with locked lids affixed for the season," allowing "a thorough cleaning of both the rings and the beach."
The NPS seems pretty serious regarding penalties for who might dare defy this, the second no-burn period ever for the beach. According to their website, both Law Enforcement Rangers and United States Park Police are on the alert for bonfire scofflaws, all of whom face "warnings, citations, and arrests, with penalties as severe as an "up to $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail."