Bonfires and agricultural burning are illegal in Baltimore County without permits from the Fire Marshal and, in some cases, from local environmental authorities (Chapter 10 of the Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code).
Leaf burning is prohibited throughout the County. The Department of Public Works and Transportation collects leaves and other yard materials as part of its regular collection schedule.
Open burning, including recreational bonfires, is prohibited inside the perimeter of the Beltway (I-695).
Outside the Beltway, recreational bonfires require a permit from the local Office of the Fire Marshal. Call 410-887-4880.
Agricultural burning—the burning of agricultural debris such as brush, stumps and limbs not associated with building construction—requires approval by Environmental Health Services (EHS). The material to be burned must have originated on the property where the burning will take place. EHS inspects the site to ensure that it meets the criteria for an agricultural burn and, if those criteria are met, authorizes the Fire Marshal's Office to issue a permit.
The Fire Code requires permit holders to keep the permit at the site of the fire until the burning is complete. The Code also requires a bulldozer with a competent operator at large bonfires; the bulldozer may be used to control the fire by covering it with earth or by some other means, if the need arises.
Fire Pits and Small Cooking Fires
Small, outdoor fires for cooking, such as campfires, broilers, grills and hibachi, are permitted but must be attended.
- Small recreational fires no larger than three feet in diameter are allowed; these can be purchased or self-constructed.
- There must be one person 18 years of age or older in attendance until the fire is out and there are no smoldering embers.
- Fires and other open flame cooking devices must be at least 15 feet from multifamily dwellings, apartments and condos.
Routine precautions must be taken:
- Maintain a garden hose or other method of extinguishment.
- Keep flammable material such as mulch, leaves and debris away from the fire.
- Maintain a safe distance from structures, decks, sheds, vehicles or anything else flammable.
- Do not burn trash, debris flammable liquids or gases.
- Dispose of the ashes in a safe manner:
- In a metal trashcan
- Wet down until saturated