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Compliance and Technical Assistance Program

CTAP > Featured Topics > October 2013: Thinking About Open Burning in Indiana? October 2013: Thinking About Open Burning in Indiana?

Open Burning is generally prohibited in Indiana with a few exceptions. These exceptions are described in 326 IAC 4-1-3 and include, but are not limited to, fire training, prescribed burns to facilitate the growth of desirable vegetation, the disposal of clean wood waste, and the use of air curtain destructors. While Indiana regulations allow some types of residential open burning of clean wood, in most areas of the state many communities have adopted local ordinances to ban or restrict residential open burning. You should check with your local fire department, health department, or city or county government officials to see if local bans or restrictions are in place.

Even if your community allows residents to burn leaves or other yard waste, it is never advised. The smoke from any fire, including clean wood, can linger at ground level, where family members and neighbors can be affected. Only burn leaves or yard waste if you have no other alternatives. If you must burn, use a well-vented container (a burn barrel is not well-vented) and only burn clean wood. A properly vented container keeps the fire under control while allowing oxygen to feed the flames and reduce excessive smoke. A screen over the container can prevent ash and other debris from drifting into the air. Never burn on windy days and have plenty of water on hand.

There are better ways to get rid of your waste. Other methods to consider are:

  • Composting of yard waste, brush, and leaves
  • Mulching of branches and brush by utilizing a wood chipper
  • Recycling household trash and appliances
  • Properly disposing of construction debris by contacting your local solid waste management district
  • Donating scrap wood for firewood at state parks
    • The wood will need to be debarked and certified by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
    • For more information, please contact Ms. Ginger Murphy by phone at (317) 232-4143 or via email at "gmurphy at dnr.in.gov".

The burning of wood scraps resulting from a business process is strictly prohibited. Other options available for disposal of such waste are to dispose of the wood scraps in a dumpster to be taken to a state permitted landfill. The wood scraps fall under an exclusion to regulated solid waste as outlined in 329 IAC 10-3-1. The disposal of uncontaminated and untreated natural growth solid waste, including tree limbs, stumps, leaves, and grass clippings; the disposal of saw dust derived from processing untreated natural wood; and dimensional lumber kiln dried without chemical treatment are exclusions as well. While the option to dispose of the scrap wood is allowable, it is not recommended as a Best Management Practice. Other options include:

  • Chipping the scrap wood for use as mulch:
    • As long as the wood is not treated (it can be kiln dried), it can be ground up and the sawdust offered for animal bedding or compost. This option is recommended as a Best Management Practice.
  • Offering the scrap wood to be utilized as “camp wood”:
    • In order to be offered as wood to be burned, it must be given or sold strictly for use in recreational camp-type settings. When wood is given or sold in this capacity, the fire shall not be used for disposal purposes.

The following list provides additional information concerning open burning, Indiana’s statutes, rules, and required forms.

The following forms are available on the IDEM Forms page:

  • Identification of Potentially Affected Persons, Form 49635
    • This form can be printed and or submitted electronically to the Office of Air Quality, Air Compliance Branch. This form needs to be included with Request for Fire Training, Request for Use of an Air Curtain Open Pit Destructor, and a Request for Tree Waste or Clean Wood Waste Variance.
  • Request for Variance from 326 IAC 4-1 (Prescribed Vegetation Burn), Form 50864
    • This is an application for prescribed vegetation open burning approval to comply with 326 IAC 4-1. This form can be printed and or submitted electronically to the Office of Air Quality, Air Compliance Branch.
  • Request for Use of an Air Curtain Open Pit Destructor, Form 43688
    • This form needs to be filled out by any person, contractor operating an air curtain. This form can be printed and or submitted electronically to the Office of Air Quality, Air Compliance Branch.
  • Request for Variance from 326 IAC 4-1 (Tree Waste or Clean Wood Waste), Form 43692
    • This Request for Variance for burning tree waste or clean wood waste can be printed and or electronically submitted to the Office of Air Quality.