OUTDOOR FIRE/OPEN Burning Information



Outdoor fires and open burning within the Falcon Fire Protection District fall under requirements set forth in the 2009 International Fire Code (IFC) and the following State and County regulations/ordinances:

Under these policies, some types of outdoor fires are prohibited while others require an open burning permit before the burn is conducted.


Bonfire: An outdoor fire utilized for ceremonial purposes. (2009 IFC)

Open Burning: The 2009 IFC defines open burning as:

The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber.

Under El Paso County Ordinance 15-001, open burning refers to applies to vegetation management burns of clean, dry, natural vegetative material.

Open burning does not include recreational fires or the use of portable outdoor fireplaces.

Open Fire: Under El Paso County Ordinance 15-001, the term open fire refers to any outdoor fire including:

  • Vegetation management burns;
  • Recreational, cooking, and warming fires;
  • Prescribed and agricultural burns.


Portable Outdoor Fireplace: A portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay, or other noncombustible material. It may be open in design, or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chiney opening in the top. (2009 IFC)

Recreational Fire: An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit, and has a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diamater and 2 feetor less in height. Recreational fires may be used for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth, or similar purposes.

Not Allowed:

  • Open burning and outdoor fires are prohibited when burn bans are in effect.
  • Burning trash is not allowed at any time in El Paso County. Prohibited materials include, but are not limited to:
    • Household waste or garbage
    • Paper or plastic
    • Chemicals, tires, treated wood
    • Cut lumber, pallets
    • Construction or demolition debris
    • Tree stumps
  • Burn barrels are prohibited for any type of burning.
  • Sky lanterns are not permitted within the Falcon Fire Protection District.

Allowed – No Burn Permit Required:

  • Recreational fires such as campfires, non-commercial cooking fires, and residential fire pits.
    • Fires must be less than three feet in diameter, and less than two feet high.
  • Ceremonial fires.
  • Agricultural burns conducted to prepare land for planting of commercial crops.


Allowed – Requires a COUNTY Burn Permit:

  • Untreated natural wood or slash (sticks and branches no greater than six inches in diameter).
  • Dry leaves, grass, weeds, or similar dry natural vegetative materials.
  • Broadcast burns of 10 acres or less of grass, or five aces or less of other vegetation. Broadcast burns are a controlled application of fire to wildland fuels in their natural or modified state over a predetermined area. The term does not apply to wildland fuels that have been concentrated in piles by manual or mechanical methods.


Open burning for vegetation management (e.g. slash pile burns): Not less than 50 feet from any structure. Provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading to within 50 feet of any structure.

Bonfires: Not less than 50 feet from any structure or combustible material (wooden fencing, grass, trees, etc.), unless the fire is contained in a barbecue pit. Conditions (such as tall grass or weeds, brush, etc.) which could cause a fire to spread within 50 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

Recreational fires: Not less than 25 feet of a structure or combustible material. Conditions (such as tall grass or weeds, brush, etc.) which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition. 

Portable outdoor fireplaces: Shall be used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions and not operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material. 


  • Prior to buying or building an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, check with your homeowners association to ensure it is allowed.
  • Check with your insurance agent to determine if an outdoor fireplace or fire pit must be disclosed or will affect coverage.
  • Per the 2009 IFC: 
    • Portable outdoor fireplaces or manufactured freestanding fire pits equipped with side screens and a cover shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible materials such as wooden fencing
    • Fire rings or pits must be located at least 25 feet from structures or combustible materials.
    • The fuel area may not exceed dimensions of 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height. Fuels shall be limited so that flame lengths do not exceed 36 inches at any time.
  • Dry grass, leaves, and other combustible vegetation must be cleared for a minimum of 10 feet around the fire area.
  • For fireplaces or pits that utilize solid fuels, only dry or seasoned natural firewood cut in lengths less than two feet may be used. Burning yard waste, trash, cardboard or paper, or construction debris is not permitted at any time.
  • Fires must be constantly attended by an adult at all times and until the fire is extinguished.
  • Do not allow children to play with fire.
  • Always have a portable fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 4-A or a source of water (garden hose, bucket of water) immediately available.
  • Do not burn during Red Flag Warning conditions or when burn bans are in effect.

Burn Permit Process:

Full information on on the permit process for open burning of vegetative materials (such as slash piles) can be found on the El Paso County Public Health website: http://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/service/air-quality/open-burn-application

Applications for open burning permits may be completed online at the El Paso County Public Health website or printed and mailed to the EPCPH offices.

From the El Paso County Public Health website:

Each day that a proposed burn will take place, the permit holder shall notify:

  • El Paso County Public Health - for weekend or holiday burns, notification shall be provided on the preceding business day prior to 12:00pm.
  • The appropriate fire department or district, as well as the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, prior to ignition and after extinguishing the open burn.
  • All adjacent landowners, including those separated by a road or right of way.


Burning shall be restricted to the item(s) and location identified in the permit.

  • Only clean, dry wood and/or natural vegetative material(s) with a diameter of not more than 6 inches may be burned. 
  • It is prohibited to open-burn certain wood-bearing items including: tree stumps, most construction materials, and pallets.
  • It is prohibited to burn any material that is not wood. 


Open burning of vegetative materials for disposal must be conducted in an open pile configuration no larger than 8 ft. wide X 8 ft. long X 4 ft. high.

Keep all open burning (vegetation management) fires at least 50 feet from structures and combustibles such as fences and vegetation.

Ignition of materials shall occur between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. ("Ignition of materials" includes both starting a fire and adding more material to an existing fire.) All fires must be completely extinguished by no later than sunset.

Burning shall be supervised by one or more responsible persons at all times. Precautions shall be taken to localize the burning and in no way constitute a fire hazard to persons or property within or adjacent to the area of burning. The granting authority and the employees or agents thereof, in the issuing of a permit, do not assume any responsibility for any actions that result in damage to the person or property of the permit holder or any other person.

This permit is for compliance with air pollution requirements only and is not a permit to violate any existing local laws, rules, regulations, or ordinances regarding fire, zoning, or building.

Before igniting an open burn, a fire safety open burning permit from the El Paso County Fire Marshal is also required in accordance with El Paso County Ordinance 15-001. El Paso County Public Health forwards all air quality open burning permits to the El Paso County Fire Marshall for review. 

The permit holder is responsible for obtaining any additional permits and/or clearances from any appropriate fire control office, local agency, or other official prior to submission of this permit.