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Citizens’ Guide to Residential Open Burning



Residential open burning, ceremonial open burning and several types of recreational open burning are permitted in Delaware except when prohibited by the State Fire Marshal or National Weather Service.

Contact Us

Gerald Mood
302.739.9402

Allowed Burning

Residential open burning is for residents domiciled in a private dwelling where no commercial or industrial activity is conducted. It includes burning small amounts (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time) of cut or fallen branches, limbs, or shrubbery from their property, so long as it is conducted as far as practicable from any adjacent property. 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 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Ceremonial fires (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time) conducted by established groups such as schools, churches, or other recognized organizations are allowed throughout the year and during any time of day.

Recreational open burning activities including cooking fires (limited to 10 cubic feet at one time), campfires (limited to 27 cubic feet at one time), patio fire pits, or chimenea are allowed throughout the year and during any time of day.

Esta información también está disponible en la versión en español de la Guía del Ciudadano Para Quemar al Aire Libre en Delaware.

Notifying the County Fire Board

County Fire Boards

New Castle County
302.571.7331

Kent County
302.734.6040

Sussex County
302.856.6306

Before conducting a residential open burn, a resident must notify their local county fire board. Cooking fires, campfires, patio fire pits, chimenea, and ceremonial fires are exempt from this requirement.

Seasonal Restrictions and Air Quality Action Days

Only cooking fires, campfires, patio fire pits, chimenea, and ceremonial fires are allowed during the Ozone Season (May 1 – Sept 30). Residential open burning must wait until October 1.

All open burning is prohibited on Air Quality Action Days, when Delaware’s air quality has been forecast as unhealthy by the Regional Air Quality Partnership. This includes any burning activity which may have been previously approved. Days with unhealthy air quality are designated Code Orange or Code Red days, based on the severity of the warning.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal may also issue a ban against open burning activity in individual counties or statewide.

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

Prohibited Residential Open Burning

The following materials are never allowed to be burned In Delaware:

  • Leaves
  • Grass Clippings
  • Garbage/Trash

No one may burn more than 27 cubic feet of branches, limbs, or shrubbery at one time.

No one may burn cut or fallen branches, limbs, or shrubbery not generated by the homeowner’s property.

Residential open burning may not be used to burn land-clearing material.

When Open Burning Is Criminal

DNREC’s Environmental Protection Officers will be directed toward violators of these open burning restrictions 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 Environmental Complaint Hotline at 1-800-662-8802. Verizon cell phone customers can call toll-free #DNR.




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