Brush and Outdoor Burning

In the Town of Durham, the Fire Chief also acts as the community’s Forest Fire Warden. New Hampshire Law RSA 227-L:17 I and II requires every person, firm or corporation who kindles any fire or shall burn or cause to be burned any materials in or near the woodlands, or where fire can communicate to the woodlands, except when the ground is covered with snow where you are burning SHALL obtain a written permit from the forest fire warden in the town or city where the fire will be kindled.

You must be at least 18 years of age to obtain a written fire permit. If not the owner of the property, you must have written permission from the owner to kindle a fire.

Camp or cooking fires (a fire in a suitable place for the purpose of cooking a meal) may be kindled with the written permission of the land owner and a written fire permit from the local forest fire warden where the fire will be kindled.

Effective January 1st of 2002, incinerator permits or the burning of household trash is prohibited in the Town of Durham. Incinerators, which are solid barrel type containers of less than 7 cubic feet in size and holes no larger than _ inch in diameter with a screen may be used to burn small amounts of brush and clean wood scraps.

Open burning is NOT permitted between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm unless active raining is in progress. Permits issued during rain are void if the rain stops. Your fire must be extinguished at that time. You may burn allowable materials with a fire permit between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Fires shall be at least 50 feet from any structure and provisions must be made to prevent a fire from spreading to within 50 feet of a structure.

A gas grill or charcoal fire in a container up and off the ground kindled by the land owner or with the land owner’s permission does not require a written fire permit.

Brush being burned must be less than 5 inches in diameter. Keep piles small and feed them during the burning process.

Air pollution laws require the fire to be extinguished if one person complains about the smoke.

Do not burn anything but brush and clean wood. Painted wood, pressure treated wood, tires, plastics, shingles, garbage and old furniture are prohibited items.

All open fires must be constantly attended until completely extinguished. A buried fire is not considered extinguished.

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting grass, brush and sometimes homes. Reduce your risk by following these brush fire safety hints.

Safety Hints

  •     In rural areas, keep a 30-50 foot "green" safety zone around your home
  •     Limit the use of flammable plants in landscape designs
  •     Limit the use of plants that develop a dry or dead undergrowth
  •     Conduct regular maintenance of your property to reduce the opportunity of a brush
  •     Remove tree limbs around chimneys
  •     Keep the roof clear of dry leaves, needles and dead branches. Keep gutters clean.
  •     Properly dispose of trash and debris
  •     Remove dead and accumulated vegetation and dispose of it properly
  •     Limit ladder fuels (plants that provide a link between the ground and your house)
  •     Stack firewood away from structures
  •     Store and use flammable liquids properly
  •     ALWAYS dispose of cigarettes and matches carefully
  •     Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach
  •     Make sure fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly display your address..

For brochures on New Hampshire Fire Laws and brush fire safety, contact us at 868-5531