Open Burning

The State Fire Marshal, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and local fire departments each have rules about fire safety. Ohio EPA also has open burning rules to reduce air pollution which can negatively affect human health and the environment.  ARAQMD is tasked with enforcing Ohio EPA’s open burning rules.

To many people, the air we breathe goes largely unnoticed. Strong, unpleasant odors or thick smoke/dust is what usually what it takes to get our attention. Even if we cannot see or smell particulates in our air, we may possibly be harmed by them. Open burning releases harmful particulates into the air we breathe and these particles contribute to or worsen respiratory and other health problems. Any outdoor fire without a vent to a chimney or stack is considered open burning. If you plan to open burn, make sure you follow the all rules and regulations to have a safe, legal, and enjoyable experience.

What open burning is allowed?

There are 9 different types of regulated fires. Specific types of fire each have their own set of restrictions based not only on the fire type but also the location of the fire (whether it is inside or outside a village or city). Review the restrictions before lighting any fire! When in doubt, call our office.

  • Barbecues, Campfires, and Cookouts
  • Agricultural waste
  • Land-clearing waste
  • Residential waste
  • Ceremonial Fires
  • Occupational Fires such as welding torches, heating tar, and heating for warmth of outdoor workers and strikers
  • Firefighter training, Explosive material disposal
  • Horticultural, silvicultural, range or wildlife management practices
  • Disease or pest control

Do I need to get permission for barbeques, campfires, or cookouts?

As long as the following criteria are met for the use of a bonfire, campfire, or outdoor fireplace, it is not necessary to contact your local air quality management district or Ohio EPA:

  • Use clean seasoned firewood or equivalent, or any clean burning fuel with emissions that are equivalent or lower than those caused by the burning of seasoned firewood.
  • They are not used to dispose of waste.
  • The wood stack is three feet or less in diameter and two feet or less in height

What open burning is not allowed?

Under Ohio law, these materials may not be burned anywhere in the state at any time:

  • Garbage, any wastes created in the process of handling, preparing, cooking or consuming food
  • Materials containing rubber, grease and asphalt or made from petroleum, such as tires, cars and auto parts, plastics or plastic-coated wire
  • Dead animals unless approved for control of disease by a governing agency.

Additional restrictions:

  • Open burning is not allowed when air pollution warnings, alerts or emergencies are in effect.
  • Fires cannot obscure visibility for roadways, railroad tracks or air-fields.
  • No wastes generated off the premises may be burned. For example, a tree trimming contractor may not haul branches and limbs to another site to burn.

What effects does open burning have on my health?

  • Ohio EPA is concerned with illegal open burning because it can harm human health and the environment. Through open burning, many toxins, fumes, and spores can enter the air we breathe and greatly affect those with pre-existing respiratory conditions (i.e. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic bronchitis) or allergies.
  • In addition to respiratory diseases, heart disease, various cancers, nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, diabetes, and reproductive or developmental disorders can be worsened by open burning. Many of these diseases can be tied to the release of particulate matter and toxins such as sulfur dioxide, lead, mercury, and dioxins which can happen with illegal open burning.

What effects does open burning have on my community?

  • Open burning contributes to detrimental health effects to individuals but also to the community. It has been found that health-based air quality standards near and within cities have been more difficult to meet because of the increased release of pollutants through open burning. These pollutants not only have detrimental effects on health but they may also contribute to deterioration of house paint and metal siding.

Additional Resources

Ohio EPA: Open Burning (includes notification and request forms)
Health & Environmental Effects of Open Burning
Open Burning Guidelines
Local Fees