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The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and your local fire department limit open burning for public health and safety reasons. Learn when and where open burning is allowed, and how to do it safely.
Open burning is allowed from mid winter to early spring across most of Massachusetts. It is prohibited in 22 densely built and populated cities and towns. See below for a list.
If open burning is allowed in your community, contact your local fire department to obtain an open burning permit in advance.
State fire wardens determine each day whether conditions are safe for open burning. Weather and air quality can change rapidly, especially in the spring, and fire departments can rescind permits when that happens.
Open burning must be done:
Communities where open burning is prohibited at all times: Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Malden, Medford, New Bedford, Newton, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, Watertown, West Springfield, Worcester
You are allowed to burn:
You may not burn:
You can help prevent wildland fires by burning early in the season. Wet and snowy winter conditions help hinder the rapid spread of fire on or under the ground.
Changing weather conditions and increased fire danger in spring can lead to many days when open burning is not allowed.
April is usually the worst month for brush fires. When snow recedes, but before new growth emerges, last year's dead grass, leaves and wood are dangerous tinder. Winds also tend to be strong and unpredictable in April.
While still allowed in most Massachusetts towns and cities, open burning has disadvantages.
The combustion process releases carbon dioxide, other gases, and solid substances directly into the air. This can make it difficult for people with respiratory problems to breathe. It can also cause smoke and odor nuisance conditions for neighbors.
Disposing of natural materials is never as good for the environment as recycling them. Ask your public works or solid waste department if your community chips or composts natural debris into landscaping material.
With the fire department's approval and supervision, a community may schedule:
Outdoor cooking is allowed year-round in all communities and is not subject to open burning limits.
With specific approval from MassDEP, local fire departments may also stage outdoor fires for purposes of fire prevention or protection research and training
Fire pits have become popular in recent years. But unless they are being used primarily for cooking, they are technically subject to the MassDEP open burning regulation. If you do use a fire pit for cooking, the fire must be:
Remember to burn only clean, dry firewood. This will minimize the amount of smoke leaving your property and affecting neighbors. You may not burn trash, refuse or similar materials.
Some cities and towns regulate, limit or prohibit the use of chimineas, fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. To find out if your community has specific requirements, contact your local fire department.