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Learn Before You Burn

An open fire is any outdoor fire that emits smoke directly into the air, including burning in barrels. Burning is prohibited in towns with more than 20,000 residents, and all villages and cities because fire smoke is unhealthy to breathe and annoys your best neighbors. Smoke is hazardous because it contains particulates, known as soot, and gases, such as carbon monoxide. Soot can injure children, pets, elderly people, and anyone with lung or heart disease - and fine soot produced by fires is especially harmful.

Statewide, Part 215 (leaves DEC) bans open burning from March 16 through May 14 - every year. Since the spring burn ban was implemented in 2009, the number of wildfires has decreased by more than 40%.

A small wildfire

You can reduce smoke's unhealthy effects and the likelihood of wildfires, for all personal fires, by following DEC guidelines for campfire safety.

Even when the burn ban is not in effect, it is illegal to burn household garbage and leaves.

Information about Legal Fires

Minor exceptions to the Statewide ban include:

  • outdoor cooking devices, when used to cook food;
  • small cooking or camp fires using untreated wood or charcoal; and
  • small fires used to dispose of a flag or religious item or for a religious ceremony, where permitted.

When you plan a fire, always check for fire danger in your area on DEC's online map (updated every week). Also, local governments may have stricter rules than the State; your fire department will have information about local burning laws.

Celebratory fires, campfires, and cooking fires help make family and social events great. Please keep your fires legal and safe by never burning trash in them.

Many questions about outdoor burning are answered on DEC's open burning webpage. If you have other questions, send us an e-mail.