Open Burning Regulations and Safety

Emergency Management

Emergency Management

Open Burning Regulations and Safety

On November 29, 2023, Home Rule Resolution No. 23-11-3 was passed by the Board of County Commissioners. This resolution recommended updates to the county code that regulates open burning for the unincorporated areas of Douglas County and was necessary to promote fire safety and protect persons and property from the dangers of open burning. Additionally, a county policy has been created to put state and county regulations in one place which has definitions for open burning on agricultural and residential land as well as for recreational uses. It also describes enforcement and penalties for those who violate the regulations.

Burn Ban Criteria and Determination (Daily)

Burn bans are determined daily by 8AM using the Rangeland Fire Index and the Fire Weather Forecast. The following criteria are used for determining the issuance of an open burning ban.

Open burning is prohibited during:

  • Red Flag Warnings. 
  • Local, county, or state-wide burn ban. 
  • Rangeland Fire Index of Very High or Extreme. 
  • Rangeland Fire Index of High, with a forecast for sustained winds of greater than 15mph. 
  • Rangeland Fire Index of Low or Moderate and a forecast for sustained winds greater than 20mph.

Open burning may be prohibited when a threat to the area exists or due to any other variables that could affect open burning. These variables include, but are not limited to:  

  • Local jurisdictional authority
  • Resource limitations 
  • Local dry conditions

Log Your Burn and Get the Burn Status

All approved open burning must be reported to the Dispatch Center except for those defined in recreational burning. Douglas County has two ways to log your burn in the unincorporated areas.

  1. A NEW online form. The form will require a valid address that is in the unincorporated areas of Douglas County. The form allows you to log when you start burning and when your burn is complete. The form will display as "Closed" when a Burn Ban is issued. 
    1. You'll need to follow municipal guidelines if you are burning within city limits. 
  2. The Burn Hotline. Call 785-832-5394 to hear the current burn status and to record your burn with the Douglas County Dispatch Center.   

For both logging methods, you'll need to be prepared to share the following information when logging your burn: 

  1. Location of the intended burn 
  2. Name, address and telephone number of the person responsible 
  3. Duration and schedule of the burning 
  4. Description of the proposed burn to include size/acreage, material, and reason for burning

By logging your burn through the Dispatch Center or via the online form, you agree to comply with the rules and regulations stated in the county open burning resolution and policy.

Allowed Open Burning - Definitions

Allowed open burning is limited to the following:

Agricultural open burning. The open burning of vegetation such as grass, woody species, crop residue, and other dry plant growth for crop, range, pasture, wildlife, or watershed management (this includes the burning of routine brush piles accumulated from the property). Materials (brush, limbs, and other materials) brought from another site cannot be burned.

Residential open burning. Open burning of nonhazardous materials generated from the residential parcel (unless otherwise prohibited) includes trees, brush, and yard waste. Prohibited materials for residential open burning include heavy smoke-producing materials including heavy oils, tires, and tarpaper as outlined in K.A.R. 28-19-647(e)(2).  

Recreational open burning. Aside from the exception described below, notification to the Douglas County Dispatch Center is not necessary for this type of open burning. 

  1. Open burning for cooking, warming or ceremonial purposes on public or private land regularly used for recreational purposes; provided, however, any fire exceeding five (5) feet in diameter at its base requires notification.  
  2. Burning within a self-contained outdoor burning device designed for cooking or heating (barbecue grill or pit, camp stove, fire pit, etc.).

Burn Permit - Specifically approved open burning conducted under a burn permit granted by the BOCC. 

KDHE-approved open burning. Open burning approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) according to K.A.R. 28-19-647 and approved by the fire control authority having jurisdiction over the area. Approval may be granted when there is no other practical means of disposal, it is in the public’s interest, and it is not prohibited by the local government or local fire authority. These activities include the following:

  1. Use of safety flares to dispose of flammable liquids and gases. 
  2. Firefighter training (contact KDHE for additional specific requirements). 
  3. Fires to remove dangerous or hazardous materials. 
  4. Open burning of trees and brush not related to agricultural purposes, such as clearing land for development. 
  5. Open burning of only clean wood waste from construction projects carried out at the construction site (does not include engineered wood product wastes such as plywood and pressed-wood products, pressure-treated wood lumber, and painted or stained wood wastes).

Open Burning Regulations

The following applies to residential open burning, KDHE-issued permits, and county-issued permits. While fire safety practices should always be followed, reporting recreational open burning (except a fire with a base diameter exceeding 5 feet) is not necessary. 

  • Before starting any open burn, persons conducting the burn shall make appropriate notification of such intention to burn as described in the county open burning policy to include the following information:
    • Location of the intended burn 
    • Name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible 
    • Duration and schedule of the burning 
    • Description of the proposed burn to include size/acreage, material, and reason for burning
  • All open burning shall be conducted following the KDHE rules and regulations for Open Burning, K.A.R. 28-19-645 et seq. 
  • Nothing here shall relieve any property owner or other responsible parties from the obligations of obtaining proper approvals from KDHE. 
  • A person shall not conduct an open burn that creates a traffic safety hazard. If conditions exist that may result in smoke blowing toward a public roadway, the person conducting the burn shall give adequate notification to the Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Office, or other appropriate state or local traffic control authorities before burning. 
  • A person shall not conduct an open burn that creates an airport safety hazard. If smoke may affect visibility at an airport, the person conducting the burn shall give adequate notification to the appropriate airport authorities before burning. 
  • The person conducting the burn shall ensure that the burning is supervised by a person over the age of 18 until the fire is extinguished. 
  • The person conducting the burning shall stockpile the material to be burned, dry it to the extent possible before it is burned, and make sure that it is free of matter that will inhibit good combustion. 
  • A person shall not burn heavy smoke-producing materials including rubber tires, plastics, roofing, tar paper, old furniture, cloth or any petroleum base product nor trash that contains foam, chemically treated wood, electronics, chemicals, or hazardous materials. 
  • A person shall not initiate burning during the nighttime, which is defined as the period from two (2) hours before sunset until one (1) hour after sunrise (except agriculture and other specifically approved open burning). 
  • A person shall not add material to a fire after two (2) hours before sunset. 
  • A person shall not burn within 1,000 feet of any occupied dwelling unless the occupant of that dwelling has been notified before the burn. 

  • Before starting any burn, persons conducting any open burning shall make appropriate notification of such intention to burn as described in County Policy to include the following information:
    • Location of the intended burn and the name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for the open burning;
    • Duration and schedule of the burning;
    • Description of the proposed open burning to include, but not be limited to, size/acreage of the burn, material to be burned and reason for the burn; and
    • Agree to comply with the stated conditions for open burning.
  • A person shall not conduct a burn that creates a traffic safety hazard. If conditions exist that may result in smoke blowing toward a public roadway, the person conducting the burn shall give adequate notification to the highway patrol, Sheriff's Office or other appropriate state or local traffic control authorities before burning.
  • A person shall not conduct a burn that creates an airport safety hazard. If smoke may affect visibility at an airport, the person conducting the burn shall give adequate notification to the appropriate airport authorities before burning; and
  • The person conducting the burn shall make sure that the burning is supervised by a person over the age of 18 until the fire is extinguished.

The County has developed an Open Burning Policy to outline open burning procedures and regulations as directed in the Open Burning Resolution.

Always make sure you follow Kansas statutes and regulations regarding burning! They are found under: K.A.R. 28-19-645, K.A.R. 28-19-647 and K.A.R. 28-19-648 (Authorized by K.S.A. 65-3005 and K.S.A. 65-3010).

You can review the entire County Resolution on Open Burning or the County Open Burning Policy for more details. A general violation of open burning policy will result in a Class C misdemeanor or a Class A misdemeanor during a burn ban, in accordance with K.S.A 48-939.