Know the law before you burn

May 9, 2020

Did you know escaped debris burning is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida? With the extremely dry weather upon us, burn bans are in effect across the Florida Panhandle.

The Florida Forest Service administers Florida’s outdoor burning and forest fire laws, along with issuing the permits. For beach bonfire permits, contact South Walton Fire District at 850-267-1298. To learn more, click here. Each County’s Board of County Commissioners issues burn bans, so keep abreast of your local government’s actions.

Some types of burning require an authorization from the Florida Forest Service while others do not. Read Steps to Getting an Authorization then contact your local Florida Forest Service field unit.

The following activities require a burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service:

  • Agricultural burning
  • Silvicultural burning
  • Land clearing
  • Pile burning
  • Acreage burning

Piles greater than 8 feet in diameter require a burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service. You are also required to have suppression equipment on hand. Contact your local Florida Forest field unit for setback requirements.

Activities that do not require a burn authorization
You do not need a burn authorization to burn yard waste (grass clippings, brush, leaves, tree limbs, palm fronds, etc.) as long as the pile is less than 8 feet in diameter and:

  • The fire is ignited after 8 a.m. Central Time or 9 a.m. Eastern Time and is extinguished one hour before sunset; and
  • There are no local, city or county ordinances in place that prohibit burning.
  • Contain your fire in an 8-foot-diameter pile or non-combustible barrel that is at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from your house, 50 feet from a paved public road, and 150 feet from other occupied buildings.
    • Don’t burn on windy days or when the humidity is below 30 percent.
    • Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave.
    • Keep a shovel and water hose handy.

Tips for burning yard waste
• Clear an area down to bare soil around your pile to prevent the fire from spreading.
• Cover a non-combustible container with wire mesh to keep sparks from flying out and starting new fires.

You can download a helpful brochure here: know_the_law