October 1, 2017 
July 15, 2018

Outdoor Burning

With spring or fall, many homeowners start seasonal cleaning and preparation of their gardens and backyards.  Along with the cleaning comes the decision of what to do with yard waste and trimmings.  Hopefully, this will add some insight to what type of burning can now be conducted in rural Pierce County.  Increased regulations pertaining to outdoor burning has been adopted by county, state and federal agencies.  Most of the current permit and policies of local fire districts follow closely to rules adopted by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (P.S.C.A.A.).  The current status of outdoor burning is as follows:

Land Clearing Burning:  The P.S.C.A.A. ruled that land clearing burning be prohibited in Pierce County as of July 1, 2008.  Land clearing burning is done when clearing property of trees and natural vegetation that is indigenous to the site for the purpose of building structure or land development.  The PSCAA has determined that sufficient alternatives are now in place to permit disposal of vegetation and trees by other means such as chipping or transport to solid waste disposal facilities.

Small Residential Outdoor Fires 4’X4’X3’:  Allowed in the rural areas of South Pierce Fire and Rescue except in the town of Roy and McKenna.  A burn permit is required and is available at Station 170 (5403 340th Street East, Eatonville, WA 98328)) and Station 171 (302 McNaught Street, Roy, WA 98580).  Primary rules that need to be followed:                                                                   

  • The fire shall only include natural vegetation originated from the property and shall not include materials hauled from another property.
  • Burn site shall have a 10’ non-combustible area around burn pile. 
  • Fires shall be located a minimum of 50’ from any structure.
  • Fire sites will have minimum 10 gallons of water or a garden hose that can reach around the burn pile.
  • Burning is restricted to daylight hours only and piles must be extinguished one hour prior to sunset.  Burning is restricted to one pile at time. 
  • No vegetation shall be greater than 4 inches in diameter. 
  • No fire shall occur within 50’ from any property line or one hundred feet from a neighboring residence.

Large Residential Outdoor Fires 10’X10’X6’:  Permit is required and the same rules apply outlined in the small residential fires.  Additional rules that need to be followed:

  • If the vegetation includes material that is greater than four inches in diameter, the fires shall be constructed using heavy equipment (such as tractor loader or excavator) with an operator on site at all times.  In addition a fan must be used to increase combustion.
  • No fire shall occur within 100’ of a property line or three hundred feet of a neighboring residence.

Permitted burning is allowed from October 1st through July 15th unless a seasonal burn ban is in effect.  There is no cost for permits to our citizens.  If any emission from the fire is detrimental to health, safety, or welfare of any person, the fire shall be immediately extinguished.  The primary goal is to have a system that is safe and limits the amount of harmful toxins emitted from outdoor fires. 

There are other options for citizens to dispose of yard waste including free disposal at the Hidden Valley Landfill. Other ideas and options are available at the P.S.C.A.A. website www.pscleanair.org.  

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