With the exception of small (3' by 3') recreational fires, open burning
is generally not allowed in the Town of Phelps per the Town of
Phelps Code Enforcement Office. If you plan on conducting an open
burn, you must abide by the following rules...
1. All open burns must be approved by the Phelps Town Code
2. In most instances, open burns must also be approved by the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
3. If approval is granted by Code Enforcement, notification must be
made to the Oaks Corners Fire Department and the Ontario County
911 Center. (NYS Fire Code Sec. 1191.2)
4. The location for an open burn shall not be 50 feet from any
structure, and provisions shall be made to prevent fire from
spreading within 50 feet of any structure. (NYS Fire Code Sec.
5. Open burns, bonfires, or recreation fires shall be constantly
attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one
portable fire extinguisher, or other on site fire extinguishing
equipment such as dirt, sand, garden hose, water barrel, or water
truck shall be available for immediate utilization. (NYS Fire Code
Sec. 307.4) If we are dispatched to an unattended burn, the fire will
be extinguished, and the Code Enforcement Office and DEC will be
7. Open burning that is offensive or objectionable due to smoke or
odor emissions or when atmospheric conditions make such fires
hazardous will be prohibited. (NYS Fire Code 307.2.1). If we receive
a call for a nuisance fire bothering a neighbor, we will respond to
extinguish the fire, and most likely bring a law enforcement officer
with us. The Code Enforcement Office and DEC will also be notified.
DEC regulations ban all open burning except for the
* On-site burning of limbs and branches between May 15th and the
following March 15th in any town with a total population less than
* Barbecue grills, maple sugar arches and similar outdoor cooking
* Small cooking and camp fires.
* On-site burning of organic agricultural wastes, but not pesticides,
plastics or other non-organic material.
* Liquid petroleum fueled smudge pots to prevent frost damage to
* Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires.
* Disposal of a flag or religious item.
* Burning on an emergency basis of explosive or other dangerous or
contraband by police, etc.
* Prescribed burns performed according to state regulations.
* Fire training with some restrictions on the use of acquired
* Individual open fires to control plant and animal disease outbreaks
as approved by DEC upon the request by the Commissioner of
Agriculture and Markets.
* Open fires as necessary to control invasive plant and insect
|Below are some examples of what
has happened when local residents
have attempted to conduct
unauthorized open burns.
Questions and Answers Regarding New Open Burning Regulations (effective October 14, 2009):
1. Do the new regulations on open burning make burning household trash in burn barrels or piles
Yes. Burning trash is now prohibited statewide in all cases. DEC recommends that you recycle all appropriate
materials (such as newspaper, paper, glass and plastic) and compost your organic kitchen and garden waste.
2. What are the new regulations on open burning in New York State?
Effective on October 14, 2009, all open burning is prohibited in New York with several exceptions including the
* Campfires less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length, width or diameter are allowed.
* Small cooking fires are allowed.
* Fires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished.
* Only charcoal or clean, dry, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned.
* Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires are allowed.
In towns with a total population less than 20,000, you may burn tree limbs with attached leaves. The limbs must
be less than 6 inches in diameter and 8 feet in length. However, this is not allowed from March 16 through
May 14 due to the increased risk of wildfires.
See Section 215.3 for a full list of exceptions.
3. Why has the DEC changed the regulations allowing open burning in New York State?
Open burning of household trash releases dangerous compounds including arsenic, carbon monoxide,
benzene, styrene, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide and dioxin, among others. Open burning is also the
single greatest cause of wildfires in New York.
4. Can I burn leaves if I live in a rural area?
No, burning leaves is banned in New York State. We encourage you to compost leaves.
5. Your rule says firewood must be untreated, some firewood is heat-treated, is that allowed?
Some firewood is heat treated (kiln dried) to control invasive insect species if it is to be transported over 50
miles. Heat treated firewood is not intended to be prohibited. However, the burning of chemically treated wood
such as pressure-treated lumber and plywood is prohibited.
6. Are open fires allowed to control invasive plant and insect species?
Yes. Case-by-case DEC approval is not required.
7. Can agricultural wastes be burned?
Yes, organic agricultural wastes may be burned on-site where they are grown or generated including brush and
wood produced by clearing fields and other activities. The fire must be located on contiguous agricultural land
larger than 5 acres, and the materials capable of being fully burned within 24 hours.
The burning of pesticides, plastics or other non-organic material is prohibited.
8. Can I burn liquid petroleum fueled smudge pots to prevent frost damage to crops?
Yes. However, burning tires and other wastes for smudge is not allowed.
9. Can prescribed burns be performed?
Yes. Prescribed burns, the burning of forest land to achieve a vegetative or wildlife management goal, can be
performed but only in accordance with DEC regulations. Check with your regional DEC office.
10. Are fire training burning activities allowed?
Yes, with some restrictions on the use of acquired structures and in accordance with guidance from NYS Dept.
of State's Office of Fire Prevention and Control. The Fire Services Bureau may be reached at 518-474-6746.
11. Are individual open fires to control plant and animal disease outbreaks allowed?
Yes, as approved case-by-case by DEC, upon the request by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.
12. Can I dispose of a flag or religious item in an open fire?
Yes, in a small-sized fire if it is not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation.
14. Can a town prohibit open burning that the state allows?
Yes, towns, villages, cities and counties can pass ordinances that are stricter than, and not inconsistent with,
the open fires regulations. You should check with local authorities to find out if local law requires a permit or
prohibits open fires.
15. Can explosives, or other dangerous contraband, be burned?
Yes, on an emergency basis by police or other public safety organizations only.
16. Can brush piles be burned at transfer sites?
No, the practice of burning large piles of brush collected from local residents at town or county transfer sites is
prohibited. The individual landowners in small towns may burn their brush on site as discussed under question
2 above. Downed limbs and branches generated at a transfer site are also allowed to be burned on site with
the same restrictions.
17. Where should I call to report an illegal open fire?
To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332).