Burn Restriction Guidelines

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Burn Restriction Order 2021-R1 Effective September 13, 2021 at Noon (MDT)

Due to current drought conditions, arid vegetation, and increases in grass fire occurrences on undeveloped areas of Colorado Springs, and decreases in local, State of Colorado, and national response resource availability, Colorado Springs Fire Department, by and through its Division of the Fire Marshal, determines measures necessary to heighten fire hazard awareness and further reduce fire risks in order to protect health and safety are essential. Therefore, effective at noon (MDT), on September 13, 2021, Burn Restriction Order 2021-R1 goes into effect and will remain until rescinded.

Outdoor Burning Definition Guide

The following types of burns, burning operations, and outdoor fires require permits and regulation by Colorado Springs Fire Department. Permits can be obtained online or at the Fire Department Complex (375 Printers Parkway). A processing and inspection fee shall be assessed and collected at that time and some fees will require additional review by a fire official.

The following elements define and provide additional information on the types of prescriptions and permits in accordance with the request.

Burning Permit Requirements

According to the 2015 Colorado Springs Fire Code, as amended, Section 307.2 Permit Required states, “A permit shall be obtained from the fire code official in accordance with Section 105.6 prior to kindling a fire for recognized silvicultural or range or wildlife management practices, prevention or control of disease or pests, or a bonfire. Application for such approval shall only be presented by and permits issued to the owner of the land upon which the fire is to be kindled.”

Open burning shall only be permitted with prior approval from the state or local air and water quality management authority, provided that all conditions specified in the authorization are followed.

Guidelines

Burn Restrictions

PROHIBITED within the City of Colorado Springs:

  • Any type of fire, whether open or contained, on any UNDEVELOPED WILDLAND AREAS, brushy areas, or grassy areas
  • Recreational fires
  • Bonfires
  • Open or prescribed burns
  • Outdoor smoking in ALL CITY PARKS AND OPEN SPACES
  • Small internal combustion engines operated without a properly installed, maintained, and functioning spark arrestor
  • Recreational fireworks/devices requiring ignition such as sparklers, snakes, aerials, comets, flares, flyers, fountains, missiles, mortars, spinners, punks, rockets, shells, etc. (PROHIBITED AT ALL TIMES)
  • Trash/rubbish burning (PROHIBITED AT ALL TIMES)

ALLOWED within the City of Colorado Springs:

  • Select pyrotechnic or commercial activities WHEN PERMITTED by Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD)
  • Hot work activities such as welding, brazing, blasting, and torching in forested or grassy areas WHEN PERMITTED by CSFD
  • Outdoor smoking ONLY in designated areas and disposal of smoking materials is in a non-combustible container with a secured lid (SMOKING IS PROHIBITED IN ALL CITY OWNED PARKS AND OPEN SPACES)
  • Model rockets WHEN PERMITTED by CSFD
  • Outdoor fireplaces and outdoor appliances WITHIN DEVELOPED AREAS:
    • Shall maintain a minimum clearance of 15’ between the fireplace or appliance and all combustible structures, fences, and/or vegetation (No clearance requirements for permanent outdoor fireplaces or appliances installed in accordance with the currently adopted International Mechanical Code.)
    • Shall ONLY be fueled by wood, pellets, charcoal, liquid propane (LPG), or natural gas
    • Shall utilize spark arrestors when fueled by wood, pellets, or charcoal
    • Shall constantly be attended by a capable adult with a means of complete extinguishment
  • Cooking devices intended for outdoor use, fueled by solid materials (wood, pellets, or charcoal) and/or liquid propane (LPG), natural gas, or liquid fuel WITHIN DEVELOPED AREAS:
    • Shall maintain a minimum clearance of 15’ between the device and all combustible structures, fences, and/or vegetation (No clearance requirements for permanent outdoor cooking appliances installed in accordance with the currently adopted International Mechanical Code.)
    • Shall constantly be attended by a capable adult with a means of complete extinguishment
    • Shall dispose of waste (residue from wood, pellets, or charcoal) in non-combustible containers with lids tightly secured

Bonfires

A bonfire is an outdoor fire greater than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height, utilized for any religious, celebratory or similar purpose as outlined in the adopted 2015 International Fire Code, Section 307.4.1. All bonfires require a permit issued by Colorado Springs Fire Department Permit.

Once a permit is obtained, the bonfire shall be at least 50 feet away from a structure or combustible materials and shall not at any point move any closer to the structure than the stated 50 feet. A bonfire shall be constructed of solid wood products and void of any trash, debris or rubbish.

Prescribed Burning

Only city, county, state and federal agencies or other approved agencies with an approved Prescribed Burn Plan and Hazardous Activity Permit are allowed to conduct this type of activity. Prescribed burning, also referenced as prescribed burn, is the ignition of vegetation (such as non-processed wood, slash, weeds, etc.) or woody biomass for the purpose of silviculture (forestry purpose), agriculture, range or wildlife management, the prevention and or control of disease or pests, or wildfire risk reduction. A prescribed burn is predetermined, planned, monitored and must meet the measurable criteria of desired conditions specific to the needs and objectives of an area. This includes the burning of piles, slash, ditches, under-story canopy burns, and special hazards.

All prescribed burns are reviewed by a fire official for approval and permitting for the City of Colorado Springs by the Colorado Springs Fire Department Division of the Fire Marshal.

Open Burning

Open burning is NOT allowed within the City of Colorado Springs. Open burning is the burning of materials where smoke is emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber with an aperture, duct, or flue necessary to provide combustion air and control the emitting gases into the air. This does not include road flares, smudge-pots, and similar devices or recreational fires or the use of portable outdoor fireplaces.

Open burning for the purposes of the disposal of waste, rubbish, debris, etc. are not allowed. Fire for the purposes of cooking, warmth, religious, pleasure, ceremonial or other special purposes shall be defined as a Recreational Fires or Bonfire.

Recreational Fires

A recreational fire is an outdoor fire where materials other than rubbish are being burned and it is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit or fire ring. The adopted 2015 International Fire Code defines a recreational fire as being intended for cooking, warmth, religious, pleasure, ceremonial or other special purposes. A recreational fire shall not have a total fuel area greater than 3 feet in diameter and must be 2 feet or less in height.

Recreational fire must be at least 25 feet away from a structure or combustible materials and must not at any point move any closer to the structure than the stated 25-foot distance.

  • While the fire is burning, it must be constantly attended by someone who is conscious.
  • Make sure to have a means of extinguishment ready: water hose line, buckets of water, or large buckets of sand are a few examples.

Fireplaces / Fire Pits

Any outdoor fire where the fire is contained in a portable or fixed fireplace/appliance. If you live in a single-family home, you may operate portable outdoor fireplaces with no minimum distance requirement from your structure or combustible material. However, they may not be operated within 15 ft. of a neighboring structure or combustible material, such as a tree, bush, or common fence.

Consumer Fireworks

All types of fireworks with a fuse and or requiring a flame for ignition are ILLEGAL in Colorado Springs. Only novelty items (snappers and poppers) are allowed. Possession, use, and or the sale of fireworks is subject to a violation of Fire and City Code. A fire started by fireworks that threatens or damages property is a crime of Arson.

6.6.204: Designation of Smoking Areas in City Parks and Open Spaces

All city park property is hereby declared to be a nonsmoking area unless the Manager of the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department designates areas on or in park property where smoking is not prohibited. In those cases, any designated smoking areas shall be clearly identified and receptacles for the disposal of used smoking materials shall be provided. (Ord. 13-46)

Misuse of Fire

Any misuse of fire or non-permitted ignitions that causes, threatens, or damages property is subject to violation of City and Fire Code and potential arson charges. Person(s) in violation of city code could be subject to a fine of $2,500 or 189 days in jail. All permitted requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Division of the Fire Marshal in accordance with City Code.

Enacting Burn Restrictions and Burn Bans

The Fire Marshal has the authority to enact a burn restriction or burn ban for the City of Colorado Springs. Criteria used to determine when these conditions are initiated include: weather, fuel moistures, cooperator status, local and regional fire activity and national preparedness levels (which influences suppression aircraft availability). These elements are closely monitored by the Wildfire Mitigation Administrator and Fire Marshal. When predetermined criteria are met the appropriate condition is implemented. Immediate public notifications are made to the media through press releases and on the city website of such orders. The chart below outlines what is allowed during burn restrictions and burn bans:

Products

Burn Restrictions

Burn Ban

Blasting, Welding & Torches

Yes, by permit ONLY

Yes, by permit ONLY

Bonfires

No

No

Model Rockets

Yes, by permit ONLY

No

Open / Prescribed Burning

No

No

Outdoor Smoking

Yes, in designated areas; smoking materials must be disposed of in a non-combustible container

NO SMOKING IN ANY CITY PARKS/OPEN SPACES

Yes, in designated areas; smoking materials must be disposed of in a non-combustible container

NO SMOKING IN ANY CITY PARKS/OPEN SPACES

Recreational Fires

No

No

Fireplaces (portable & fixed)

Yes, if fueled by wood, pellets, charcoal (must have a spark arrestors with these types of fuels) or gas

Yes, only if fueled by liquid propane gas (LPG)

Outdoor Cooking

Yes

Yes, only if fueled by liquid propane gas (LPG) or natural gas

Burn Restriction and Burn Ban Penalties

Person(s) failing to comply with a burn restriction or burn ban shall be punished in accordance with the general penalty of the Code of the City of Colorado Springs as amended (1.1.201). A careless fire that threatens or damages property is arson and shall be prosecuted as such.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can city residents burn leaves or trash outdoors? No, this is an illegal activity. Violations should be reported to the CSFD Division of the Fire Marshal @ 385-5978.

2. Is burning trash in a fireplace allowed in the city? No, the burning of debris, rubbish, or trash is not allowed.