Open Burns

From bonfires to agricultural open burns, citizens must have approvals from both health and fire officials. If you’re a resident of Broomfield, Boulder, Jefferson or Weld County, you should first contact your county’s health department. Adams County residents should contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Department.

After the health department approves the burn, residents need to contact North Metro’s Fire Prevention Division at 720-887-8217 to obtain and complete an open burning application.

PLEASE NOTE: The burning of trash is strictly illegal. Burning trash is illegal whether it is a recreational fire, permit-allowed backyard open burning, or a farmer doing “agricultural” burning. Backyard recreational fires may only burn sticks, branches, or firewood. Note that sawn lumber (2x4’s, etc.), plastic, furniture, appliances, etc. are not allowed to be burned.


Open Burning

The burning of a bonfire, rubbish fire or other fire in an outdoor location where fuel burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit. Open burning of rubbish containing paper products is prohibited.

A Recreational Fire

The burning of materials other than rubbish where fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill, or barbeque pit and with a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking or similar purposes.

Agricultural Open Burning

The open burning of cover vegetation for the purpose of preparing the soil for crop production, weed control, maintenance of water conveyance structures related to agricultural operations, and other agricultural cultivation purposes.

A Bonfire

The open burning of cut trees, vegetation or clean lumber.

Burns That Require a Permit From North Metro Fire

  • Bonfire
  • Agricultural open burning
  • Fires larger than 3 feet in diameter and/or 2 feet in height

Burns That Don't Require a Permit

  • Outdoor fireplaces
  • Barbeque grills
  • Barbeque pits
  • Fires less than 3 feet in diameter and/or 2 feet in height for religious, ceremonial, cooking or similar uses

Backyard Burning 101

After the Burn Permit Is Issued

All open burning shall be conducted in accordance with the adopted fire code as enforced by North Metro Fire, with emissions standards as administered by the applicable county health department or the State of Colorado (where there is no county health department), and with regard to public safety as determined by the county sheriff.

Local Tree/Branch Recycling Centers

Homeowners and landowners, regardless of the size of their plot of land, who have cleared brush, trimmed trees and bushes, etc. for the purpose of maintaining their land, sometimes wish to dispose of the yard waste by burning. While this is possible, the fire district always recommends other methods of disposal, such as city or county tree-recycling programs.

Officials May Ban Open Burning for Many Reasons

North Metro Fire

Under the authority of the adopted fire code, North Metro Fire may ban all open burning for reasons deemed necessary (i.e., high fire danger, high winds, county burn bans or fire restrictions, etc.). Fire and weather conditions change constantly and are continuously evaluated by Fire Prevention Division staff throughout the day.

The County Health Department

The county health department is also empowered to ban all open burning for reasons deemed necessary, such as poor air quality, etc. Please contact the Clean Air Advisory Line at 303-758-4848 to determine if open burning is permitted.

The County Sheriff

Furthermore, the county sheriff may also ban all open burning for reasons deemed necessary. Notification of such a ban is provided via a press release to local newspapers with a copy provided to the fire jurisdiction(s) affected. The information can also often be found on the county sheriff’s website.

Requirements for an Open Burn Permit

North Metro Fire requires that a copy of the county health department or State of Colorado exemption letter accompany an application for permit in order to process any request for an open burn permit. 

Telephone Numbers for the County Health Departments & the State of Colorado

Boulder County Health: 303-441-4500
Broomfield County Health: 720-887-2220
Jefferson County Health: 303-271-5700
State of Colorado: 303-692-3268