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Open Burning on Residential Property

Residential property is property that is used exclusively for residential purposes, consisting of one to four dwelling units. Your city or town may have a municipal ordinance restricting or banning open burning on residential property within its boundaries. Burning on property not zoned or classified as residential is prohibited. Please check with your city or town to find out what restrictions may apply open burning on residential property.

Restrictions, Conditions and Permitting

Prior to burning, the resident, or individual seeking to burn on the residential property where he or she resides, must have a valid, signed permit from his or her local Open Burning Official. The permit does not relieve the permittee of any legal liability, which may be incurred as a result of the fire.

Open burning is limited to the burning of brush only. Brush is defined as shrubs, vegetation or prunings, the diameter of which is not greater than three inches at the widest point. Leaves and grass are not considered brush. Open burning is not allowed for the purpose of clearing land, or for the disposal of construction debris, household trash, or leaves.

Open Burning Restrictions

Residents looking to burn must have a valid and signed permit from their local Open Burning Official. Cities and towns looking to burn brush at their DEEP permitted landfill, transfer station, or recycling center must have a valid and signed open burning permit from DEEP.

Open burning is not allowed:

  • to clear land prior to construction activities
  • as a means to dispose of construction debris, household trash, or leaves.
  • if the Air Quality Index (AQI) is forecasted to be 75 or higher anywhere in the state
  • if the Forest Fire Danger Index is rated High, Very High, or Extreme
  • if national or state ambient air quality standards may be exceeded
  • if a hazardous health condition might be created
  • if there is an advisory from DEEP of any air pollution episode
  • where prohibited by an ordinance of the municipality
  • if directed by any member of the town Fire Marshal's office, Officer of the Fire Department, designated Municipal Official responsible for enforcing the open burning laws and ordinances, or any official of the Health Department or DEEP

Alternatives to Open Burning

Construction & Demolition Waste  | Composting & Organics Recycling | Wildlife Habitat

Additional Applicable Conditions

Before the Burn

All reasonable safety precautions are to be taken including but not limited to:

  • clearing of grass and trees from the burning area
  • wetting down of the surrounding area
  • placement of fire extinguishers and hose lines

After the Burn

  • all reasonable measures to assure complete combustion and reduce excessive smoke are to be taken
  • at no time during the burn should the fire be left unattended
  • the permit must be available on site during the burn
  • burning may not create a nuisance to nearby properties
  • burning may only be conducted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a sunny or partly sunny day with the wind speed between 5 and 15 miles per hour

Completion of the Burn Period

  • the burn pile must be completely extinguished by 5 p.m.
  • all embers and coals must be extinguished and wetted, so as to prevent smoldering and fugitive ash emissions

Failure to adhere to the conditions of the permit may result in penalties and/or enforcement actions. There may be additional requirements or special conditions applied to your open burning permit by your local Open Burning Official.

Do you have a complaint regarding open burning on residential property?

Smoke, nuisance odors, or other complaints regarding open burning on a residential piece of property are best directed to your local Fire Marshal and/or Open Burning Official. Please visit your town's website to obtain the appropriate contact information.

Issues or concerns relating to the health effects created or experienced during open burning should be directed to your local Open Burning Official as well as your local Health Department.

In the case of an emergency please call 911 or your local Fire Department.

Content Last Updated on: February 28, 2020