Exempt Burning Activities and Required Conditions

Indiana’s open burning regulations generally prohibit open burning but allow some exemptions. Even if your planned activity is exempt under state rules and allowed under local ordinances, you must still comply with the requirements and conditions in the applicable state rule referenced below. You must also comply with active burn bans documented on Indiana’s statewide burn ban status map. Exempt burning activities and required conditions include:

Recreational or Ceremonial Fires (e.g., scouting activities, campfire cooking)

Rule: 326 IAC 4-1-3(c)(1)

  • Recreational or ceremonial fires are allowed in all counties except when prohibited by a local ordinance.
  • Burning cannot be used for disposal purposes. If burning for disposal purposes, please refer to the Residential Open Burning section below.
  • Only burn clean wood, paper, charcoal, and clean petroleum products.
  • Never burn trash!
  • Limit the volume of clean wood material to be burned to less than 1,000 cubic feet.
  • If your pile is bigger than 125 cubic feet, provide the date, time, and location to the local fire and health departments at least 24 hours before burning.
  • Only burn one pile at a time.
  • Never burn within 500 feet of any fuel storage area or pipeline.
  • Do not burn during high wind conditions or temperature inversions, when air is stagnant, or when an Air Quality Action Day has been declared (see IDEM’s SmogWatch page for alerts).
  • Do not ignite a fire more than 2 hours before the activity takes place.
  • Fires must be attended at all times and extinguished upon conclusion of the activity.
  • Adequate firefighting equipment, such as a water hose, buckets of water, fire extinguisher, and/or shovels, must be kept on-site while burning.
  • Fires must be extinguished if at any time they are causing a pollution problem, a threat to public health, a nuisance, or a fire hazard.

Residential Open Burning

Rule: 326 IAC 4-1-3(c)(2)

Residential open burning is the burning of leaves, brush, paper, and other clean wood waste in a burn barrel at a private residence.

  • It is not allowed:
    • At apartment/condominium complexes, mobile home parks, and buildings with five or more dwelling units.
    • In Clark, Floyd, Lake, or Porter counties due to federal requirements for controlling ground-level ozone pollution.
    • In cities or counties with a local ordinance banning the activity.
  • If residential open burning is allowed at your place of residence:
    • Do not burn during high wind conditions or temperature inversions, when air is stagnant, or when an Air Quality Action Day is declared (see IDEM’s SmogWatch page for alerts).
    • Limit burning to daylight hours and stay with the fire at all times.
    • Only burn clean wood products such as untreated or unpainted lumber, clean brush and leaves, and uncoated paper.
    • Never burn trash!
    • Use a noncombustible container (i.e., burn barrel) with enclosed sides and a bottom that is sufficiently vented to induce adequate primary combustion.
    • Fires must be extinguished before sunset.
    • Adequate firefighting equipment, such as a water hose, buckets of water, fire extinguisher, and/or shovels, must be kept on-site while burning.
    • Fires must be extinguished if at any time they are causing a pollution problem, a threat to public health, a nuisance, or a fire hazard.
  • IDEM recommends alternatives to residential open burning.

Burning for Maintenance Purposes

Rule: 326 IAC 4-1-3(a)

  • Burning for maintenance purposes includes managing:
    • Vegetation from farms, orchards, nurseries, tree farms, cemeteries, drainage ditches, and agricultural land in an unincorporated area.
    • Wood that is pruned or cleared from a roadside by a county highway department or the initial clearing of a public utility right of way in an unincorporated area.
    • Undesirable wood structures on real property or wood remnants of the demolition of a predominantly wooden structure originally located on real property in an unincorporated area. Houses or commercial structures are typically not considered a predominantly wood structure.
  • When burning for maintenance purposes:
    • Do not burn during high wind conditions or temperature inversions, or when air is stagnant.
    • Attend fires at all times, until the burning is completely extinguished.
    • Remove all asbestos-containing materials from a structure before burning it. IDEM’s Asbestos site covers asbestos requirements.
    • Never burn asbestos-containing materials.
    • Never burn regulated solid waste including household trash, painted or treated wood, or waste tires.
    • Extinguish the fire any time it creates a nuisance or fire hazard.

Alternatives to burning for maintenance purposes are listed on the Additional Resources page.

All exempt burning activities, requirements, and conditions can be found at 326 IAC 4-1-3. If you have questions or need technical or compliance assistance, please contact IDEM.