What You Need to Know About the NYS Burn Ban - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Apr 10, 2023

What You Need to Know About the NYS Burn Ban

As temperatures rise and we begin to see some color and life return to the local landscapes, you may be excited to get back outside and spend some quality time around a campfire. But don’t go burning any brush just yet—the New York State 2022 burn ban is in effect until May 14.


Every spring NYS residents are prohibited from residential vegetation and brush burning for two months between the middle of March and the middle of May. Although conditions may be wet and snowy, rising temperatures can quickly give way to conditions conducive for wildfires. The annual burn ban is enacted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as a means of preventing wildfires during a time when they are most likely to occur.


As the weather gets warmer and vegetation and brush dries out, spring is perhaps the busiest season for forest rangers and firefighters responding to wildfires. According to the DEC, open burning - and more specifically, the open burning of yard vegetation and brush - is the single greatest cause of wildfires in the state. Since enacting the burn ban in 2009, the DEC states the number of wildfires in NYS is down by more than 40 percent.


The burn ban does not pertain to backyard fire pits and campfires that are less than three feet in height and four feet in length. The DEC advises individuals who wish to build a small fire to only use charcoal or dry, clean, untreated/unpainted wood. As a reminder, it’s always illegal to burn garbage, paper, or leaves in NYS.


While the burn ban is in effect across the state, you should check with your local municipality to see if any further restrictions are in place for you. If you reside in a city with a population of more than 20,000, open burning of vegetation and brush is prohibited year-round. If you reside in the Adirondacks or Catskill mountains, you may need a special permit to burn brush outside of the burn ban season.


Anytime you’re lighting a fire, it’s important to be cautious and aware of the risks. Always set a perimeter to contain your fire stones, or cinder blocks are good options. Avoid lighting fires on especially dry or windy days, and never leave a fire burning unattended. Keep water on hand so that you’re able to put your fire out when you need to. Before leaving a fire pit, make sure all the embers are out and have completely cooled down. If the remnants of your fire are still too hot to touch, the fire is too hot to leave unattended.