A Reminder from the NY DEC: the Annual Residential Brush Burning Prohibition Starts in March

New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur. From March 16 through mid May 14 each year, New York State prohibits residential brush burning to protect our communities and our natural resources. Open burning of debris is the single-largest cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures warm and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily, further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

Some towns are designated “fire towns.” Open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a permit from DEC.

Guidelines for open burns, when allowed:

  • Backyard fire pits and campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter are allowed.
  • Small cooking fires are allowed.
  • Only charcoal or dry, clean, untreated, or unpainted wood can be burned.
  • People should never leave these fires unattended and must extinguish them.
  • Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

For more information about fire safety and guidelines for burning brush on island, go to www.dec.ny.gov.