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What is "Open Burning" and when does it violate Zoning?

Over the past summer and fall, the Association has received various inquiries regarding residents burning leaves, trash, construction materials etc. and what can be done to lessen the impact on neighbors. After several inquiries of our own and those of several residents to a variety of Baltimore County agencies (fire, zoning enforcement, & environmental concerns), the following is a summary of Baltimore County definitions, and classifications of "Open Burning."

Restrictions on Chimineas and Fire Pits

The use of outdoor wood-burning heating appliances — fire pits and terra cotta

chimineas — is increasingly popular, especially during the early autumn months. The Baltimore County Fire Department encourages residents to know the rules about these devices and to take appropriate safety precautions.

Chimineas, fire pits and outdoor metal heaters are specifically designed to burn seasoned wood, the same as any wood-burning stove. They are subject to the same fire code restrictions as gas and charcoal grills:

They are not allowed on balconies or within 15 feet of multi-family buildings, including apartment buildings.


They are allowed only on property occupied by one- and two-family dwellings, including townhouses.


The devices cannot be used to burn trash.

The Fire Marshall’s Office cites restrictions on Outdoor burning in the
Fire Prevention Code 1:10, 11


Outdoor burning is allowed in Baltimore County outside of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), but the property owner must obtain a burning permit authorized by the Environmental Health Division of the Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management.


The permit must be kept at the site during the time of the burning. If Environmental Health does not authorize the burn, no permit is issued and the burn becomes a violation of the fire code.

Burning is not allowed within fifty feet of any structure and if necessary, additional

distances may be required by the Fire Department, Forest Service, or environmental



The property owner must also take steps to prevent the fire from spreading to any structure, such as having a water supply available.

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