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Outdoor Burning

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Learn before you burn

Outdoor burning for disposal has been phased-out in most areas of Spokane County. Smoke from outdoor fires is harmful to breathe. 

Burning garbage and the use of burn barrels are banned across our state. Smoke from burning in burn barrels is noxious because the fires burn at low temperatures, receiving very little oxygen and producing excessive smoke and other toxic substances.

Recreational Fires

Recreational fires include camp and cooking fires, backyard barbecues, chimneas and other patio warmers that burn charcoal, natural firewood, or manufactured logs and pellets. The fires are limited to private property and designated areas on public lands when restrictions are not in place.

It is important to follow these requirements whenever you have a recreational fire:

Keep it small, not tall. Fires must not exceed 3′ x 2′

Fuel it right. Use only approved fuels: charcoal, natural gas, propane, manufactured logs/pellets, firewood. Firewood must be dry, clean and natural (untreated). The fire cannot be used for disposal of anything, including paper, natural vegetation, etc.

Stay clear of structures. Outdoor wood-fueled recreational fires must be a minimum of 25′ away from any combustibles and structures. 

Stand guard and extinguish. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times. Completely extinguish the fire before leaving it.

Ask first. Permission from a landowner (or owner’s designated representative) must be obtained before having a recreational fire. The fire may not cause a smoke and/or odor nuisance to neighbors. Check for other rules that may apply to your use of a recreational fire, such as homeowner association covenants, rental agreements, etc.

Mind the ban. Outdoor wood burning is restricted during periods of poor air quality or fire danger conditions. Air quality agencies issue restrictions based air quality concerns. Fire officials may restrict outdoor burning based on fire danger conditions (typically summer into fall). Always check Current Burning Conditions or call: 509-477-4710. You may also subscribe to email notifications of burn restrictions.

Be a good neighbor. It is never okay to smoke out your neighbors. If smoke from your recreational fire bothers your neighbors, poses a threat or causes damage to their property or otherwise causes a nuisance, you must put it out immediately. For these reasons, you may wish to consider purchasing gas or electric devices versus wood burning units, especially if you live in close proximity to neighbors.

Residential Yard/Garden Debris Burning and Alternatives

Residential yard/garden debris (leaves, needles, small tree and shrub prunings, and other natural yard/garden waste) is that which originates on improved property.  Improved property is the green space around your house that you likely water, mow, landscape, etc. Silvicultural debris on the other hand, originates on residential unimproved property.

It’s important to know the distinction because the rules differ as well as the agencies that administer the programs.

Burning yard/garden debris is not allowed for most residents of Spokane County. The exception is for those who reside within the boundaries of a fire district listed below. If you do, contact the fire district for more information:

Fire District 2, Fairfield: 509-283-4271

Fire District 5, Nine Mile Falls: 509-796-4793

Fire District 11, Rockford: 509-291-6666

Fire District 12, Waverly: 509-283-2206

We encourage you to consider the non-burning options that are available for handling yard/garden debris.

Silvicultural Debris Burning

Silvicultural debris consists of trees, stumps, limbs, needles, etc., generated on residential unimproved property. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permits this type of burning. Unimproved Property includes land that is not irrigated, mowed, or otherwise maintained, including timbered pastures, brush lands, scrub forests, and forests. 

Photo showing the difference between improved and unimproved property line.

The photo on the above depicts both unimproved property (beyond the yellow line) and improved property (inside the yellow line)

If your unimproved property is outside of Spokane County’s 13 cities, towns and their urban growth areas, you may be eligible to burn silvicultural debris under DNR’s permit or rule burn programs. DNR can be reached at 509-685-6900 or contact Spokane Clean Air with questions about your location.

Smoke Sensitive Area – Portions of Spokane County are within the Smoke Sensitive Area because they are prone to experience elevated pollution levels due to population density and/or geographical features that trap pollutants. Additional restrictions may apply when burning silvicultural debris within this area. More can be found on the Smoke Sensitive Area fact sheet or call DNR at 509-685-6900.

Residential land clearing burning – Although land clearing burning in Spokane County is prohibited, there may be an exception under DNR’s silvicultural debris burning program to allow for burning provided the fire consists of natural vegetation cleared from less than one acre of forest land on a five acre or larger parcel of land in non-commercial ownership. Contact DNR for more information at 509-685-6900.

Social Event Fires

Social event fires are fires associated with a public event or celebration, and are typically limited to ten feet in diameter by five feet in height and may not be used for the purpose of disposal. A written permit is required for these fires. Contact Derek Aubrey prior to submitting your permit application to ensure you meet the criteria. He can be reached at 509-477-4727 x 120 or email.

Agricultural Burning

Agricultural burning is limited to agricultural operations only. An agricultural operation is one in which a farmer can substantiate that the operation is commercial agriculture. A farmer means any person engaged in the business of growing or producing any agricultural product for sale, upon their own lands or the land in which they have a present right of possession.

Detailed information about agricultural burning in Spokane County is provided in our Agricultural Burning Fact Sheet

Please contact Derek Aubrey prior to submitting your permit application, to ensure that you meet the criteria. He can be reached at 509-477-4727 x 120 or email.

Daily Agricultural Burn Decision for Spokane County: To access the daily agricultural burn decision, please call the recording at 509-477-4710 after 9 am, Monday – Friday. The recorded message will specify whether or not agricultural burning is allowed for that day, based on air quality conditions. This applies to all agricultural burning, including Incidental Burning conducted without a written permit.

Firefighting Instructional Fires

Firefighting instruction fires may be conducted only by fire protection agencies for the sole purpose of firefighter training and do not require a permit. Firefighting instruction fires include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Structural fire training
  • Aircraft crash rescue fire training
  • Extinguisher training
  • Other types of fire training (car rescue fire training, simulated fires at permanent fire training facilities, mobile fire training units, etc.) 

Structural Fire Training

Only a fire protection agency may conduct structural fire training and may do so without a permit provided that all of the following requirements are met:

  • Prior to conducting the training, the owner and fire protection agency(ies) must meet the requirements in SRCAA Regulation I: Article IX – Asbestos Control Standards and Article X, Section 10.09 – Asbestos Project And Demolition Notification Waiting Period And Fees. This includes clearly identifying structures on the Notice of Intent that will be used for structural fire training.
  • The fire protection agency(ies) conducting the fire training must have a fire training plan available to SRCAA upon request, and the purpose of the structural fire must be to train firefighters.
  • Composition roofing, asphalt roofing shingles, asphalt siding materials, miscellaneous debris from inside the structure, carpet, linoleum, and floor tile shall not be burned unless such materials are an essential part of the fire training exercise and are described as such in the fire training plan. Materials removed from the structure(s) must be disposed of in a lawful manner prior to the training exercise.
  • Structural fire training shall not be conducted if, in consideration of prevailing air patterns, the fire is likely to cause a nuisance.
  • The fire protection agency(ies) conducting the training must provide notice to the owners of property adjoining the property on which the fire training will occur, to other persons who potentially will be impacted by the fire, and to additional persons in a broader manner if specifically requested by SRCAA.
  • Structural fire training shall be performed in accordance with RCW 52.12.150.

Persons conducting structural fire training are responsible for responding to citizen inquiries and resolving citizen complaints caused by the training activity.

Structural Fire Training Exercises by Fire Districts fact sheet

Ceremonial Fires

Flag Retirement Ceremony Fires

A flag retirement ceremony fire is for the purpose of disposing cotton or wool flags of the USA by fire, pursuant to 36 US Code 176(k). Burning flags of synthetic materials (e.g. nylon) is prohibited. A permit is not required for flag retirement ceremony fires.

Native American Ceremonial Fires

Native American Ceremonial Fires are fires using charcoal or clean, dry, bare, untreated wood for Native American Ceremonies (i.e. conducted by and for Native Americans) if part of a religious ritual. A permit is not required for Native American Ceremonial Fires.

Land Clearing Fires

Land clearing fires are prohibited. However, residential land clearing fires to abate or prevent forest fire hazards may fit the definition of silvicultural burning if the:

  • fire is to abate or prevent forest fire hazard; and
  • material cleared is from less than one acre of forested land on a five acre or larger parcel of land; and
  • parcel is non-commercial ownership; and 
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) determines that the criteria is met to be defined as silvicultural burning

If all of the above items are met, Spokane Clean Air may defer the decision to DNR to approve the fire and issue a permit, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies. In doing so, DNR acknowledges that the fire is silvicultural burning and subject to requirements (Chapter 332-24 WAC). For more information on silvicultural burning, please contact DNR at 509-685-6900.

Noxious Weed Abatement

Spokane Clean Air delegated the administration of noxious weed burning to the Spokane County Noxious Weed Control Board (Weed Board). Noxious weed abatement fires are for the sole purpose of disposing noxious weeds identified on the State Noxious Weed List, Chapter 16-750 WAC. Burning is not allowed inside Urban Growth Areas, inside Spokane Clean Air’s Restricted Burn Area where smoke is likely to affect neighbors, or where there are alternatives to burning.

You need to obtain a written permit from the Weed Board before noxious weed burning may occur. A permit is valid for 30 days. The submittal of the fee does not guarantee approval of the application. If a permit is issued, it will include specific conditions for burning. Contact the Weed Board at 509-477-5777 for permit application and assistance.

Storm or Flood Debris

Fires consisting of natural vegetation deposited on lands by storms or floods that have occurred in the previous two years and resulted in an emergency being declared or proclaimed in the area by the city, county, or state government and burned on such lands by the property owner or his or her designee (RCW 70.94.743 (1)(c)). Burning is not allowed inside Urban Growth Areas, inside Spokane Clean Air’s Restricted Burn Area where burning would likely cause smoke impacts to neighbors, or where there are alternatives to burning. 

Please call Derek Aubrey at 509-477-4727 x 120 or email him for assistance prior to submitting the permit application.

Other Outdoor Fires

“Other outdoor fires” are fires not specified in Regulation I, Article VI, Section 6.01. These fires will generally be limited to those deemed necessary to protect public health and safety and will generally not be allowed unless Spokane Clean Air determines that extenuating circumstances exist.

A permit application must be submitted at least 10 working days prior to the first proposed burn date. A written permit from us is generally required pursuant to Section 6.01E.  The applicant is responsible for payment of a permit application fee in the amount specified on the permit application and in our Consolidated Fee Schedule.

Please call Derek Aubrey at 509-477-4727 x 120 or email him for assistance prior to submitting this permit application form and supplement information.