Open Burning

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 where?

Remember, there may be better and cheaper alternatives to open burning.

Questions may be addressed to the Department at 701.328.5188, or email Liz Trythall (ektrythall@nd.gov).


What is considered 'open burning'?

Open burning is:
The 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 or chimney.

North Dakota Administrative Code 33-15-01.26

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 Guide to the Demolition, Disposal and Open Burning of Abandoned Houses).

Should you need to burn oil that has spilled, a separate application for the open burning of liquid hydrocarbons must be filled out and submitted to the Department prior the burning of the spilled materials. Burning of liquid hydrocarbons can be conducted prior to submitting the application and prior to receiving approval only in emergency situations.

If a spill has occurred, submit an Environmental Incident Report.

What is illegal and 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 Division of Air Quality ever allow exception 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), tar paper, asphalt shingles, plastics or treated wood products will be approved. Alternatives to burning must be investigated and the request to burn must be fully justified. Cost of alternative disposal is not sufficient justification by itself. Not all variance applications will be approved.


What conditions must be met when conducting an open burn?

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 burning illegally?

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 health units listed below or your local law enforcement agency.

The following local public health units can provide information about open burning variance applications:

District

Counties

Phone No.

Central Valley Health Logan & Stutsman 701.252.8130
City-Country Health Barnes 701.845.8518
Custer Health Morton, Sioux, & Grant 701.667.3370
Custer Health Mercer & Oliver 701.745.3678
Fargo Cass Public Health Cass 701.241.1360
First District Health Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, McLean, Renville, Sheridan, & Ward 701.852.1376
Grand Forks Public Health Grand Forks 701.746.2525
Lake Region District Benson, Eddy, Pierce, & Ramsey 701.662.7035
Ransom County Health Ransom 701.232.5052
Richland County Health Richland 701.642.7735
Southwestern District Health Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope, & Stark 701.227.0171
Upper Missouri District Health Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail, & Williams 701.572.3763

Last Updated: 05/18/2015

State Gov't Outlook Web Access