When you burn trash outdoors, the potential cost to your health,
your home, your neighbors and the environment far exceeds the cost of
adequate collection services. Protect yourself, your family, your
neighbors and your wallet by knowing the rules - what can you burn and
Remember, there may be better and cheaper alternatives to
What is considered
Open burning is defined as
burning of any matter in such a manner that products of combustion
resulting from the burning are emitted directly into the ambient
(surrounding outside) air without passing through an adequate stack, duct
Generally, anytime you light a fire outdoors, you are open burning. The
rules pertaining to open burning are contained in
Chapter 33-15-04 of the
North Dakota Air Pollution Control Rules (for further information view the
Guide to Demolition, Disposal
and Open Burning of Houses).
What is illegal? When is open burning permissible?
No person may conduct, cause or permit the conduct of a salvage
operation by open burning, and the burning of refuse and other combustible
material by open burning is generally restricted. However, there are some
categories of permissible open burning; some of these are as follows:
Fires for the instruction
and training of firefighting personnel.
Fires set for the elimination of a fire hazard.
Fires set for the removal of dangerous or hazardous material.
Campfires and other fires for the outdoor preparation of food.
Agricultural crop burning.
Land clearing and right-of-way maintenance.
Some of these categories require prior Department approval or
notification. Please refer to Section 33-15-04-02 for clarification
and additional categories.
Does the Department of Health ever allow exceptions to the rules?
In order to legally burn any material that is not specifically
listed as permissible, an application for open burning variance
(SFN-8509) must be
signed by the local or district health unit and the city or rural fire
department prior to submittal to the Department (map
showing health units with regard to open burning).
No burning of trade waste or materials that generate hazardous air
pollutants such as rubber products (tires), tarpaper, asphalt shingles,
plastics or treated wood products will be approved. Alternatives to
burning must be investigated and the request to burn must be justified
fully. Cost of alternative disposal is not sufficient justification
by itself. Not all variance applications will be approved.
What conditions must be met when conducting open burning?
Regardless of whether or not the burning is permissible under the
rules or whether a variance to open burn has been issued, all open burning must
comply with all of the conditions contained in Subsection 33-15-04.2.
Some of these conditions are as follows:
No public nuisance is or will be created.
No occupied building may be impacted by air contaminants from the burning.
No traffic hazards can be created.
The burning must be
attended and supervised at all times.
For a complete listing of all conditions, please refer to
Chapter 33-15-04 of the North Dakota Air Pollution Control Rules. These
conditions are included as an attachment to any variance to open burn
issued by this Department.
What will happen to me if I'm
caught illegally open burning?
The North Dakota Department of Health has the legal authority to
enforce the open burning laws. Violations can result in substantial
penalties. If you have any questions, contact your local health unit
or the Division of Air Quality of the North Dakota Department of Health at 701.328.5188. To report a
suspected illegal open burning incident, contact the above agencies or
your local law enforcement agency.
Questions may be
addressed to the North Dakota Department of Health at 701.328.5188,
or email Casey Mutzenberger.