Open Burning

Know When (and What) to Burn

Whether people realize it or not, smoke from an outdoor fire spreads beyond a property.

Wood smoke contains air toxics and contributes to high levels of fine particulate pollution in Allegheny County. It can aggravate symptoms of asthma and other health concerns. Outdoor fires impact residents health and are therefore regulated in Allegheny County. This applies to burning of any kind, even recreational fires in a fireplace or fire pit.

The ACHD encourages everyone to utilize best burning practices to minimize smoke production from fires, but also asks residents to remember that while it is possible to decrease the impact an outdoor fire has on ones health and the health of their neighbors, the safest fire for everyone is no fire at all.

Fast Facts About Open Burning in Allegheny County

Open burning is prohibited except by permit or when it is done in a manner which contributes a negligible amount of air contaminants meaning:

  • No material other than clean wood, propane, or natural gas may be burned except for commercially available fire logs, paraffin logs, or wood pellets
  • Paper or commercial smokeless fire starters for the purposes of starting a fire
  • Charcoal for the preparation of food only
  • Fires may be no larger than 3' wide by 3' long by 2' high.
  • Fires must be at least 15' from the nearest neighbor's dwelling or inhabited area including the property line, roadway, sidewalk, or other public access area

All wood burning activities are prohibited on Air Quality Action days or during a Watch or Warning in the Mon Valley, with the exception of burning for the commercial preparation of food. Sign up to be notified of Air Quality Action days.

Burning may be considered a nuisance due to the severity of the amount of air pollutants, the duration or frequency of the burning, the topography of the surrounding, or the meteorological conditions.

Remember! Your local municipal ordinances may be equal to or more stringent than ACHD's regulations.

Smokey fire? Nuisance burning? Call the ACHD's 24-Hour Complaint Line at 412-687-2243 or submit a complaint online: Air Quality Complaint Form.

The ACHD does issue open burning permits for ceremonies, the fostering of agriculture, disposal of diseased vegetation, and firefighting instruction. For more information on obtaining a permit, please see Permitting.

Additional Open Burning Topic Areas