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Open Burning Permits

Firefighter training/fire extinguisher training

An Open Burning Permit must be obtained from the Illinois EPA.

Houses donated for Firefighter Training/Fire Extinguisher Training must be free-standing establishments. Structures already demolished and/or debris are not eligible for donation to fire departments and may not be burned.

Structures are required to have an asbestos inspection - all asbestos containing materials must be removed prior to the burn.

Prairie & Ecological Landscape Burns

Prescribed burning means the planned application of fire to natural or planted vegetative fuels under specified environmental conditions and following appropriate precautionary measures, which caused the fire to be confined to a predetermined area and accomplish the planned land management or ecological objectives – pursuant to Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Illinois DNR).

It is recommended that "prescribed" burns be conducted between October 1 and April 30 - the time frame established for prescribed burns in central Illinois by Illinois DNR.

Burn Managers should develop a prescribed burn plan. Example plans are available from Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or Natural Resources Conservation Services.

  • An Open Burning Permit must be obtained from the Illinois EPA.
  • Local ordinances may be more restrictive and must be followed. Such ordinances may require additional permits. Please check with the county and unit of local government where the prescribed burn will occur.

Prescribed Burning and Smoke Management:

Prescribed burning should be conducted in accordance with Illinois EPA approved permit conditions and follow applicable standard conditions, as well as any special conditions outlined in the Open Burning Permit.

Smoke Management: For the purpose of Smoke Management, "prescribed" burns managed for resource benefits should be conducted in accordance with guidance outlined in the Draft Illinois Smoke Management Program. Smoke management components in burn plans should include:

  • Actions to minimize prescriptive fire emissions,
  • Methods for evaluating smoke dispersion, including using National
  • Weather Service daily fire weather planning forecast information and a dispersion index,
  • Public notifications and exposure reduction procedures, and
    Air quality monitoring of sensitive receptors.

Burn Managers in non-attainment areas of the state should use the Air Quality Index to monitor daily air quality conditions and delay burning on “Orange” or worse “Air Pollution Action Days”.

For prescribed fire training opportunities and more information on the IL Prescribed Burning Act and the IL Smoke Management Plan, please visit the Illinois Prescribed Fire Council website or email the Council.

Agricultural Waste & Open Burning

Agricultural waste is any refuse generated on site on a farm or ranch by crop and livestock production practices including such items as bags, cartons, dry bedding, structural materials, and crop residues - excluding garbage, dead animals, buildings, corn cribs, and landscape waste.

Agriculture waste may be burned if the following criteria are met:

  • Open burning is restricted to the site where the waste is generated. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.120 (a)(1))
  • Open burning is not allowed in restricted areas.
  • Restricted area is any city, village, or incorporated township plus a zone extending one mile beyond the boundaries when there is a population of 1,000 or more. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.101)
  • Open burning is prohibited if it hampers visibility on roadways, railroad tracks, or airfields.
  • Open burning must be more than 1,000 feet from residential or other populated areas.
  • The owner/operator must show that no reasonable and economic alternative method of disposal is available. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.120(a)(6))
  • Local ordinances may be more restrictive and must be followed.

Landscape Waste & Open Burning

Landscape waste is leaves, grass, tree limbs, shrubbery cuttings, and other materials accumulated as the result of the care of lawns, shrubbery, vines, and trees.

Is it illegal to burn leaves in Illinois?

It depends on the local laws and ordinances as units of local governments have the authority to impose limitations on burning landscape waste including limiting the hours when such burning may occur, types of material allowed, as well as a total ban of open burning (e.g., leaf-burning ban). There is no state law or regulatory ban on leaf burning, however, local laws and ordinances govern.

While there are no state laws that prohibit open burning of landscape waste, restrictions do exist:

  • If allowed by local authorities/governments, leaves may only be burned on the site where they are generated, or at sites provided and supervised by a local government.
  • Local governments may ban the open burning of landscape waste and other materials.
  • Local governments may regulate burning by specifying times and/or weather conditions during which open burning may occur.

Commercial/Trade Waste & Open Burning

Commercial waste is waste generated by a business, industry, and government institutions.

  • It is illegal to burn commercial waste in the state of Illinois, except for landscape and agriculture waste generated on the property and under limited circumstances.
  • Landscape waste generated for the purpose of clearing land for new development/business is a trade waste and may only be burned with an air curtain incinerator and after obtaining the appropriate permits.
  • Local ordinances may be more restrictive and must be followed

Disaster Debris & Open Burning

Disaster debris istree limbs, brush, natural wood and plant debris, agricultural waste (bags, cartons, dry bedding, structural materials and crop residue), canvass sandbags, clean wood building debris, and lumber.

Disaster debris may be burned if the following criteria are met:

  • If the Governor of Illinois or the President of the United States declares a major disaster. (20 ILCS 3305/11)
    • The area(s) in which the major disaster has been declared are defined. (20 ILCS 3305/11)
  • Once a disaster is declared, open burning of disaster debris may occur through the Disaster Area Open Burning Permit Application process along with adherence to local laws and regulations.



Contact Information

For further information or if you have any questions please contact Floyd McKinney or John Blazis in the Bureau of Air Permit Section at (217) 782-2113 .

Click here for a listing of local Illinois EPA field offices.