Open Burning

Citizens' Guide to Open Burning

Domestic Open Burning by Homeowners

Open burning activities that are allowed include:

  •     Cooking fires such as barbecue grills.
  •     Campfires, patio fire pits, or chimenea.
  •     Ceremonial bonfires conducted by established groups such as schools, Indian tribes, or other recognized organizations.
  •     Burning of small amounts of yard waste/garden debris (less than 27 cubic feet of material in total) such as cut or fallen tree limbs or trimmed shrubbery from a residence. 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, and when permitted (Oct. 1-April 30), is allowed only between 8 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Materials illegal to burn at any time, anywhere in Delaware, are:

  •     Leaves
  •     Grass Clippings
  •     Stumps
  •     Logs
  •     Household garbage/trash
  •     Waste lumber
  •     Piles of yard waste exceeding 27 cubic feet of material in total
  •     Yard waste not generated by the homeowner’s residence
  •     Land-clearing debris

Notifying the County Fire Board

Before conducting an open burning activity (except BBQs, patio fire pits and chimeneas) a homeowner must notify the local County Fire Board.

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

Seasonal Restrictions

There is a restriction against ALL open burning during the Ozone Season (May 1-Sept.  30), with the exception of cooking fires (BBQs), recreational campfires and ceremonial bonfires.

Prohibitions to Open Burning

  •     The burning of waste and/or garbage has been prohibited in Delaware since the first open burning regulations were established in 1967.
  •     The open burning of leaves and grass clippings is prohibited.
  •     Open burning of land clearing debris except as done 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 $50-$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 at 302-739-9402 or

General Information
Jerrad Steele