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Open Burning Regulations

What is "open burning"?

Anytime you light an outdoor fire, it is considered "open burning". Open burning can release many kinds of toxic fumes and irritants into the air. Leaves and plant materials release millions of spores when they catch fire, causing many people with allergies to have difficulty breathing. Gases released by open burning can also harm nearby buildings by corroding metal siding and damaging paint.

When is "open burning" illegal?

Some materials may not be burned anywhere in Ohio at any time. These include:

  • Materials containing rubber, grease, asphalt, or materials made from petroleum. For instance, tires, cars, auto parts, plastics, plastic coated wire.
  • Garbage - any wastes created in the process of handling, preparing, cooking, or consumption of food.
  • Wastes generated off the premises - for example, a tree trimming contractor may not haul branches to another site to burn them.
  • Dead animals.

Open burning is prohibited at certain times and places. These include:

  • When air pollution warnings, alerts, or emergencies are in effect.
  • Within 1,000 feet of an inhabited building located off the property where the fire is set.
  • If it will obscure visibility for roadways, railroads tracks, or air fields.
  • Within restricted area.

What is a restricted area?

Open burning is prohibited in restricted areas, except for a few types which are listed under "When is 'open burning' legal?" A restricted area is any area:

  • Within the boundaries of any municipal corporation (city or village).
  • Within a 1,000 foot zone outside any municipal corporation with a population of 1,000 to 10,000.
  • Within a one mile zone outside any municipal corporation with a population of more than 10,000.

When is "open burning" legal?

A few types of "open burning" are permitted everywhere, even in restricted areas. The types permitted everywhere include:

  • Cooking for human consumption; barbecues, campfires, cookouts.
  • Welding and acetylene torches
  • Heating tar
  • Smudge pots and similar occupational needs
  • Heating for warmth for outdoor workers and strikers; fireplaces, woodstoves; use untreated wood or other clean fuels

OUTSIDE RESTRICTED AREAS only, the following types of waste can be burned:

  • Agricultural wastes generated by crop, horticulture or livestock production including fence posts, tree stumps and scrap lumber, but not buildings.
  • Landscape waste such as trees, tree trimmings, branches, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery, yard trimmings and crop residues.
  • Residential wastes such as wood or paper products generated by one, two or three family residences; however, garbage may not be "open burned".

What type of "open burning" requires prior permission?

Certain types of fires may be set by notifying Ohio EPA in advance or with prior written permission from Ohio EPA. However, even with permission, no "open burning" can take place within 1,000 feet of an inhabited building located off the property where the fire is set, or can obscure visibility for roadways, railroad tracks or air fields. Contact Ohio EPA for permission to set the following types of fires:

  • Ceremonial fires for no more than 3 hours, and no more than 5 ft. by 5 ft. in area
  • Fires to train firefighters
  • Fires to dispose of certain ignitable or explosive materials
  • Fires to manage agricultural or wildlife areas
  • Fires to dispose of poisons and their containers
  • Fires for plant matter removed when land is cleared for development

Does the Ohio EPA allow exceptions to the rules?

Under certain circumstances, yes. However, to burn a prohibited material or to set a fire in a restricted area, you MUST receive WRITTEN PERMISSION from the Ohio EPA before you begin burning.

Can a local community allow burning of leaves or other "open burning"?

No. Local ordinances cannot be less strict than state laws. In Erie County, local Health Department rules prohibit burning of ANY SOLID WASTE at ANY LOCATION in such a manner that it creates a health menace, unsanitary condition or nuisance.

Who do I contact for permission for a ceremonial fire, or to report "open burning"?

To obtain written permission for a fire, contact Ohio EPA at least two weeks before the requested date.

Ohio EPA Northwest District

To report burning of solid waste that is a nuisance or health problem, contact:

Erie County General Health District
Sandusky Office: 419-626-5623
Vermilion Office: 440-967-7359