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Open Burning Prohibitions,  Approvals and Notifications


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Open Burning Prohibitions

Open burning ordinarily eligible for approval is banned throughout Delaware during the Ozone Season (May 1-Sept. 30).

Delaware has prohibited the burning of waste and garbage at any time since the state’s first open burning regulations were established in 1967.

Open burning of fallen leaves and grass clippings is also always prohibited.
Open burning of material generated from land-clearing activities is banned, except for those activities used to establish agricultural operations. The exception does not include clearing land in order to construct structures used in conjunction with agricultural operations.

Prescribed burn - Photo by Bill Jones
Photo by Bill Jones

Prescribed burns - such as this burning to eliminate invasive phragmites - and approved burns for agricultural debris and firefighting training situations are permitted in Delaware, but only outside the state’s Open Burning ban (May 1 - Sept. 30).

Open burning is also prohibited on Air Quality Action days when Delaware’s air quality has been forecast as “unhealthy” by the Regional Air Quality Partnership (AQP). This includes any burning activity which may have been previously approved prior to the air quality having been forecast.  Days with “unhealthy” air quality are designated Code Orange or Code Red days, depending upon the severity of the warning. The AQP, administered by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, provides air quality forecasts for ground level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Ozone forecasts are available from May through September on both  the DNREC omepage and by calling the Air Quality Partnership Information Line at 1.800.872.7261. Check the forecast daily and take the proper actions to determine if an Action Day has been forecast that bans open burning.
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.
Open Burning Approvals and Notifications

Approvals and/or notifications are required prior to beginning all burning activities covered by the Open Burning Regulations:

  • Homeowners must notify their  county fire board before burning  cut or fallen branches, limbs, or shrubbery from their residence (See a Citizens’ Guide to Residential Open Burning). County fire boards can be reached by calling:
    • New Castle County (302) 571-7331
    • Kent County (302) 734-6040
    • Sussex County (302) 856-6306

  • Fire companies must obtain written approvals prior to initiating any fire training exercise that involves the demolition of a structure via firefighting instruction. Prior to any training that may damage a structure, the property owner of the structure must have it inspected for asbestos by a certified asbestos inspector, have any asbestos removed by a certified asbestos abatement contractor, and the structure re-inspected by a certified asbestos inspector before submitting an asbestos 10-day notification  to both DNREC and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3-Philadelphia office at least 10 working days prior to that training.

  • Land owners and forest management officials must obtain written approval prior to initiating a prescribed burn event, and also must notify their county fire board.

  • Farmers must obtain written approval before initiating an agricultural burn, and must also notify their county fire board.

For more information contact:

Gerald Mood
(302) 739-9402

Revised: 06/10/16

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