Massachusetts Requirements & Responsibilities
Open burning, the burning of any material out-of-doors, releases large amounts of carbon monoxide and other gaseous and solid substances directly into the atmosphere. Open burning causes air pollution and aggravates respiratory problems. Under
poor atmospheric conditions, open burning creates a smoke and odor nuisance - as well as a health threat - to area residents, especially in densely populated areas. For these reasons, open burning is restricted in Massachusetts.
You must obtain a PERMIT
for open burning from your local fire department or fire warden.
The only times a permit is not necessary are:
- to combat or backfire an existing fire by persons affiliated with an official firefighting agency, or
- for cooking purposes.
Burning (with a permit) of the following materials is ALLOWED:
- brush, cane, driftwood and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land clearing operations between
January 15 - May 1 under the following conditions:
- burning must be at least 75 feet from all dwellings,
- burning must be carried out between 10 AM and 4 PM, and
- burning must take place on land closest to the source of mayerial to be burned.
- materials normally associated with the pursuit of agriculture, such as fruit tree prunings, dead raspberry stalks, blueberry patches for pruning purposes, infected beehives for disease control.
- trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
- fungus-infected elmwood if no other acceptable means of disposal is available (disease-free brush is not an acceptable starting aid).
Permits are also required for the following activities:
- training or research in fire protection or prevention with specific approval by the Department of Environmental Quality Engineering (DEQE),
- burning Christmas trees from December 26 to January 7 of each year,
- one ceremonial bonfire each year to observe a municipal, state, or national event, under the supervision of the fire department,
- bonfires between July 2 and July 6, under supervision of the fire department.
Burning of the following materials is PROHIBITED statewide:
- brush, trees, cane and driftwood from commercial and/or institutional land clearing operations,
- grass, hay, leaves and stumps,
Also prohibited is:
- burning at landfills or refuse disposal facilities other than approved sites,
- stacking, placing or storing combustible material such that the Department may presume that it will be burned.
NO OPEN BURNING PERMITS MAY BE ISSUED
for the burning of brush, cane, driftwood and forestry debris in the following communities:
- 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
Suggested Guidelines for Conducting Open Burning:
- Starting the Fire
- Before placing materials to be burned in an area, remove all grass.
- Before burning brush, dry by cutting in advance or covering.
- Start the fire using either small amounts of kerosene, #2 fuel (no gasoline), or a pressurized burner which uses diesel fuel,
- While Burning
- Someone must attend the fire until completely extinguished. Have available a water supply, such as a pressurized water pump can
or hose, and shovels or rakes for controlling the fire,
- Extinguishing the Fire
- Burn the fire down to coals and spread the coals with snow, water, sand or soil.
Open Burning Causes Air Pollution
All open burning must be conducted during periods of good atmosperic ventilation without causing a nuisance (as determined by DEQE).