This weekend looks like it should be pretty good for outdoor bonfires.  But what are the rules for burning outdoor in New York State?

The idea is to eliminate pollution and wildfires.  So certain items aren't allowed to be burned and there are open burn dates where people are allowed to have fires outside. The rules change across the state depending on where you live.

First, let's start with things that you are allowed to do:

  • Campfires are allowed but should be less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length, width or diameter are allowed.
  • Small cooking fires are allowed.
  • Fires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished when there isn't anyone near them.
  • Only charcoal or clean, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned.
  • Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires are allowed.

What about tree branches?

  • Tree branches are allowed in towns with populations less than 20,000.
  • The limbs must be less than 6 inches in diameter and 8 feet in length (also referred to as brush).
  • Burning of tree branches is prohibited from March 16 through May 14 due to the increased risk of wildfires.

According to the DEC, burning of your own personal trash is prohibited across the state:

  • Burning trash is prohibited statewide in all cases. Our existing incinerator rule already prohibits burning household trash in wood stoves, fireplaces, and outdoor wood boilers.
  • DEC recommends that you recycle all appropriate materials (such as newspaper, paper, glass and plastic) and compost your organic kitchen and garden waste.
  • Burning leaves also is banned in New York State. We encourage you to compost leaves.
  • Disposal of flags or religious items in a small-sized fire is allowed if it is not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation.