Burning Grass and Woody Debris Safely
The Laws and Outdoor Fires
If a forest fire results because you have used fire improperly, you could be held responsible for the costs of putting out the fire and for any property damage that occurs.
Regulations describe conditions under which outdoor fires are allowed in Ontario. If you live in a municipality, check with the local municipal office or fire department: you may be required to get municipal permission to burn or you may be required to take your woody debris to an approved disposal site. If your municipality does not have special burning rules, follow the instructions in this brochure for safe burning.
If you live in northwestern, northern, or central Ontario, the following safe burning tips are not only important, they are the law!
Choose a Safe Time
Any fire is more likely to get out of control on a hot, dry, or windy day. Burn during the coolest, dampest and calmest time of the day - two hours before sunset, or later. Make sure fires are out two hours after sunrise, or earlier. Don’t even consider burning when it’s windy.
Keep Your Fire Small
Small fires can be controlled by one person using hand tools and water. Keep your pile of wood, brush, or wood by-products to be burned less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high. An area of grass or leaves can be burned if the area is less than one hectare (2.5 acres) and the length of the flaming edge is kept to less than 30 metres (100 feet).
Choose a Safe Site
Woody debris fires often turn into forest fires when the fire escapes by running a long the ground away from the pile or burn area. Burning piles must be at least two metres from other flammable material. If you are burning an area of grass or leaves, make sure the area is surrounded by a fire-proof boundary. Roads, ditches, or ploughed ground provide good barriers against fire spread.
Stay With Your Fire
If you start a fire outdoors, you must take all necessary steps to tend the fire, keep it under control, and extinguish it before leaving the site. A responsible person must be available to tend the fire at all times, even if it is contained in an incinerator. You must have adequate tools and water to control the fire if it begins to spread.