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Citizens' Guide to Residential Open Burning

Allowable Domestic Open Burning Activities Include:

  • Cooking fires (limited to 10 cubic feet at one time).
  • Campfires, patio fire pits, or chimenea (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time). 
  • Ceremonial bonfires conducted by established groups such as schools, churches, or other recognized organizations (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time).
  • Burning of small amounts  of cut or fallen branches, limbs, or shrubbery  from your residence (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time). This total represents the size of a fire that can be reasonably extinguished with a garden hose. [NOTE: Such burning is banned during the Ozone Season (May 1-Sept. 30).  The rest of the year (Oct.1-April 30), such burning is allowed only between 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.]

Notifying the County Fire Board

Before conducting an open burning activity (except cooking fires, campfires, patio fire pits, chimenea, and ceremonial bonfires) a homeowner must notify their local county fire board.

             o New Castle County 302-571-7331 
             o Kent County 302-734-6040 
             o Sussex County 302-856-6306

Seasonal Restrictions

There is a restriction against  open burning during the Ozone Season (May 1-Sept.  30), with the exception of cooking fires , campfires, patio fire pits, chimenea, and ceremonial bonfires.  ALL other burning must wait until October 1.

Prohibitions to Domestic Open Burning

Materials Which Are Always Prohibited To Be Burned In Delaware, Include:

     • Leaves 
     • Grass Clippings 
     • Garbage/Trash 
     • Burning more than 27 cubic feet of branches, limbs, or shrubbery at one time at a residence.  
     • Burning cut or fallen branches, limbs, or shrubbery not generated by the homeowner’s residence. 
     • Land-clearing material that has not been generated to develop land for the purpose of establishing agricultural operations.

Open burning is prohibited statewide during the Ozone Season from May 1- Sept. 30 each year.
Open burning is also prohibited on Air Quality Action days when the State’s air quality has been forecast by the Regional Air Quality Partnership (AQP) to be unhealthy. Forecasts are provided on this website and also by calling the Air Quality Partnership Information Line at 1-800-872-7261. Check the forecast daily and take the proper actions to determine if an action day has been forecasted prohibiting open burning activity.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal may also issue a burning ban prohibiting open burning activity in one county or statewide.

The National Weather Service may issue a red flag warning cautioning against open burning activity due to unfavorable weather conditions that may result in dangerous fire conditions. 

When Open Burning Is Criminal

Violators of open burning restrictions will be targeted by DNREC’s Environmental Protection Officers for flouting the burn law. Penalties range from $100-$500, plus a possible criminal record with conviction. To report illegal burning, citizens can call the 24-hour Open Burning Hotline at 1-800-662-8802. Verizon cell phone customers can call toll-free #DNR.

For more information contact:

Gerald Mood
(302)739-9402
Gerald.mood@state.de.us

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