Burn Permits are required by Maine State Law for outside burning. During Spring, Summer & Fall, volunteer lookouts scan the forests and land throughout southern Maine for smoke. These volunteers staff the last of the few remaining Fire Towers, all in York County. If you burn without a permit, there is a better than average chance that someone will find your fire, even if it’s fairly small. Burning without a permit is a Class E crime, but the biggest problem is it uses time and money for firefighters to search for the source of the smoke that was spotted by the tower lookout.
Please get a permit by stopping by the Fire Station after 9AM. At that time, if conditions warrant, a permit will be issued. On any days that the FIRE DANGER is a CLASS 3 or higher, there will be NO permits issued.
To receive a burn permit go to the firestation at
18 Railroad Ave.
State of Maine Rules & Guidelines for Open Burning
Open Burning is the burning of any type of combustible material in the open (ambient) air without being completely enclosed and where the smoke goes directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack, chimney, duct or other device or structure.
Open Burning Permits
Permits are granted by the District Forest Ranger, the town forest fire warden or the fire chief that has jurisdiction over the location where the fire is to be set.
Permits must be issued in accordance with all applicable state and local fire regulations. A permit may be revoked:
- During a period of high forest fire danger
- Where a nuisance condition is created
- When permit conditions are not followed
Forest Rangers and town forest fire wardens are legally responsible to ensure that all established criteria for allowable burning are followed. Any person who engages in outdoor burning that is prohibited by statute or who fails to comply with the conditions of the permit shall be guilty of a Class E crime.
Open Burning Permit Terms
Burning must proceed with all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of fire and must not create any nuisance conditions.
Burning must follow all criteria listed in the “Permittee Responsibilities” section on this web site.
NO Open burning of tires, rubber products, plastics, styrofoam, metals, chemicals, asphalt shingles, wire insulation, tar, paints, solvents or sludge is allowed.
NO Residential open burning of rubbish, refuse, garbage, paper, cardboard or wood boxes is allowed in municipalities using trash collection (curbside pickup) services.
NO residential burning of leaves, brush, deadwood and tree cuttings where prohibited by a municipality.
NO burning of solid waste materials other than brush and demolition debris at any solid waste facility.
Permissible Open Burning With Permit
When not prohibited by statute, rule of any state agency or local ordinances, the following types of burning are permissible after a written permit is obtained, as long as no nuisance is created.
Recreational campfires and fires in conjunction with holiday and festive celebrations.
Burning of solid or liquid fuels and structures for the purpose of research or bona fide instruction and training of firefighters with qualified instructors. Criteria for bona fide instruction include:
- Hazardous materials stored inside buildings mush be removed, such as paint, asphalt shingles, oil, etc.
- There must be a certified instructor on scene
- There must be a written training plan including an action plan, goals and objectives of the training.
- Firefighters mush be used to attack the building in a real suppression attempt. The fire may be relit.
Burning for agricultural purposes which include but are not limited to blueberry fields, potato tops, hayfields and prescribed burning for timberland management.
Residential burning of highly combustible domestic household trash such as paper and cardboard where no trash collection service is available or will accept those materials. The statute requires those issuing such permits to evaluate the practicality of a burn barrel setback of 150 to 300 feet from the permittee’s and neighboring residences, to reduce the risk of nuisance conditions and exposure to toxic air pollutants. The criteria shall not be used to deny a permit.
Residential burning of leaves, brush, deadwood and tree cuttings from a homeowners’ property unless expressly prohibited by the municipality.
Burning of materials not listed under the prohibitions section, that is generated from; land clearing, erection, modification, demolition or construction of a highway, railroad, power line, communication line, pipeline, building or development where not expressly prohibited by the municipality. Note: municipal governments also need a permit for open burning activities.
Due to toxic air emissions from pressure treated lumber and railroad ties, state officials strongly recommend Burning for hazardous abatement purposes such as but not limited to the burning of grass fields that wood treated with creosote type products not be open burned.
Burning for the containment or control of spills of gasoline, kerosene, heating oil or similar petroleum products.
The burning of brush and demolition debris at municipal solid waste disposal facilities after separation of all non-wood, plastic and fiber materials.
Permissible Open Burning Without Permit
When not prohibited by statute, rule of any state agency or local ordinances, the following types of burning are permissible as long as no nuisance is created.
Residential and licensed commercial campgrounds use of outdoor grills and fireplaces for recreational purposes such as preparing food. The Bureau of Forestry recommends a seasonal campground self inspection and certification procedure be completed.
Recreational campfires kindled when the ground is covered with snow, or on frozen bodies of water.
Any solid waste facility shall be operated with fire preventative measures:
- A strip 10 feet wide cleared to mineral soiler water supply constructed on all sides of the landfill as approved by the forest ranger and town forest fire warden
- A 100 foot buffer zone, cleared of vegetation, debris and other inflammable material with green branches of conifers and dead branches/snags of all trees pruned to a height of 10 feet above the ground
A watchman must be on site during periods of high forest fire hazard, when any demolition debris facility is burning.
The permittee must:
- Follow all safety guidelines
- Have a written permit in their possession
- Assure that no nuisance is created
The Permittee is responsible for the fire if it escapes and may be liable for suppression costs up to $10,000 as well as any damages caused to other property.
It is the responsibility of those authorized to issue permits to understand and inform all permittees of prohibited burning materials and practices. The number of permits issued within any town during the day should be limited according to available firefighting resources.
Open Burning Permit Criteria
The criteria to be evaluated by the forest ranger or town forest fire warden before a permit can be issued are:
- Forest fire danger index and burning location
- Time of day and season of year
- Temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction as well as the matter and type of burning proposed
- For recreational fires, the feasibility of use of public camp sites
- Experience and capability of permittee in the safe use and control of proposed burning
- Length of burning period
- Presence or availability of sufficient force and equipment to control the burning
- The practicality of locating a back yard barrel incinerator at least 300′ from any abutting property boundary and at least 150 feet from any residential dwelling.
Open Burning Safety Criteria
- Appropriate wind speeds for burning are 1-10 mph. For grass burning, wind speed should be 5 mph and lower. For brush, wind speeds less than 10 mph are acceptable.
- Small, hot fires assist in dispersion and produce less smoke
- Short, frequent burn periods will help ensure that weather conditions won’t change and cause a nuisance from air pollution
Fires must be attended at all times:
- Debris or backyard incinerators (one adult, one garden hose or bucket of water present at all times)
- Grass (at least 2 adults, brooms or other appropriate items to suffocate a fire, buckets of water as well as garden hose)
- Brush (at least 2 adults, garden hose, buckets of water and a few hand tools such as a shovel and a rake)
Supplemental conditions or restrictions may be added by the Town Fire Warden issuing permits.
Do not burn during an inversion (when stagnant air conditions are evident). The State guidelines allow open burning at the appropriate daylight hours for the season and fire hazards index. Although the Bureau of Forestry generally recommends that burning after 5 PM is the safest approach in terms of fire control safety; be aware that night time and early morning burning when air may be stagnant can create and air pollution nuisance and may necessitate a permit being revoked and the fire to be extinguished.