Understanding ‘Burn Ban’ Restrictions in New York For Backyard Fires, Campfires
While New York State is under a 'burn ban' each spring, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't have a small backyard fire while it's in effect.
Since 2009, the state has enacted a restriction on residential brush burns for two months each spring, mid-March through mid-May (March 16-May 14), while conditions for wildfires are heightened. It was done to reduce the potential for wildfires, and to cut down on air pollution, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur.
But, that only applies to brush burns, or open burning of brush and debris (see examples in video below). Small fires for cooking, or campfires, or just Friday night recreational fires in the backyard are fine around much of New York State, barring any local restrictions, according to the DEC's Kevin Frazier:
''Small recreational campfires for cooking or for social gatherings are acceptable and not a violation of the ban, assuming they are allowable under local ordinances. Certain cities, villages and towns may have local ordinances,'' Frazier wrote in response to the inquiry.
Also, campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed. However, they should never be left unattended, and must be extinguished. And, the burning of garbage and leaves is prohibited year-round, Frazier said.
It's also important to know that there are designated 'fire towns' in New York State, which are mostly in and around the Adirondack and Catskill parks where fires are banned year-round, unless an individual or municipality secures a permit from the DEC, according to the NYS DEC website.
Violating the residential brush burning ban could get to you a fine of $500. And, the risk of sparking a wildfire.
You can view the NYS DEC's fire rating risk map here.