Residential backyard or outdoor burning is a form of open burning, which is defined as any burning outdoors that does not pass through a stack, duct, or chimney. Residential outdoor burning includes fires in burn barrels.
Residential outdoor burning is permissible in some areas of Idaho under specified conditions. Before burning, DEQ advises residents to do the following:
- Learn about Idaho's open burning regulations.
- Check with your local fire protection service to determine if a burn permit is required or if local or state restrictions prohibit burning in your area.
What Cannot Be Burned?
It is illegal to burn garbage and most human-made substances, including plastics, hazardous wastes, paints or painted materials, tires, and trade wastes (produced by a business), which emit hazardous pollutants into the air when they are burned. Specifically, the Rules for the Control of Air Pollution in Idaho prohibit burning the following substances (certain exemptions may apply):
- Garbage (Defined as "any waste consisting of putrescible animal and vegetable materials resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food including, but not limited to, wastes materials from households, markets, storage facilities, handling and sale of produce and other food products")
- Dead animals, animal parts, or animal feces
- Motor vehicle parts or any materials resulting from a salvage operation
- Tires or other rubber materials or products
- Asphalt or composition roofing or any other asphaltic material or product
- Tar, tar paper, waste or heavy petroleum products, or paints
- Lumber or timbers treated with preservatives
- Trade (business-generated) waste
- Insulated wire
- Pathogenic wastes
- Hazardous wastes (Defined as "any waste or combination of wastes of a solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous form which, because of its quantity, concentration or characteristics (physical, chemical or biological) may: (a) Cause or significantly contribute to an increase in deaths or an increase in serious, irreversible or incapacitating reversible illnesses; or (b) Pose a substantial threat to human health or to the environment if improperly treated, stored, disposed of, or managed
What Can Be Burned?
The Rules for the Control of Air Pollution in Idaho allow the use of open outdoor fires under certain conditions and for certain purposes. Unless a burn ban is in effect and/or other restrictions apply, residents may burn the following:
- Solid waste (e.g., rubbish, tree leaves, yard trimmings, and gardening waste) if no scheduled house-to-house solid waste collection service is available and the burning is conducted on the property where the waste was generated
- Tree leaves, yard trimmings, or gardening waste if allowed by local ordinance or rule and conducted on the property where the waste was generated
- Fires for the preparation of food or recreational purposes, such as campfires and barbecues
- Ceremonial fires
- Small fires set for handwarming purposes
- Weed control along fence lines, canal banks, and ditch banks
- Crop residue
It may be possible to avoid burning by following these alternatives:
- Mulch or compost: Add yard trimmings and other vegetation to your compost bin to improve soil quality.
- Chip: Save money on mulch by chipping brush, prunings, and wood waste on your property.
- Reduce: Avoid purchasing disposable items. Buy products in bulk or economy sizes instead of in individually wrapped or in single serving sizes. Buy products that can be recharged, reused, or refilled.
- Reuse: Donate unwanted clothing, furniture, and toys to friends, relatives, or charities. Give unwanted magazines and books to hospitals or nursing homes.
- Recycle: Separate recyclable items, such as newspapers, glass and plastic containers, and tin cans, from your residential waste and prepare them for collection or drop off at a local recycling station. Mend and repair rather than discard or replace.
- Dispose: Have your household waste picked up by a licensed waste removal company or take it to a licensed disposal facility rather than burning it.
It is best not to burn, but if you must, do the following:
- Check with your local fire department or district for local burn requirements or restrictions.
- Burn in a barrel (instead of in a pile) and cover the barrel with a metal screen to contain the fire and its embers.
- Burn in a cleared area and wet the surrounding area before lighting the fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Keep a garden hose, a bucket of dirt, and a shovel nearby.
Idaho Fire Safety Burn Permits
Individuals living outside city limits anywhere in Idaho who plan to burn for any reason—including crop residue burning and excluding recreational campfires— during closed fire season, must obtain a fire safety burn permit.
If you live inside city limits and you plan to burn, a permit from your local fire department may be required.
Fire safety burn permits can be obtained online with the new online statewide self-service fire safety burn permit system at BurnPermits.Idaho.Gov. For additional information about this permit, select the FAQ at the top of the page.
Burn Barrel Efficiency
Increase burning efficiency by elevating the barrel on bricks, cutting vent holes in the sides and near the bottom of the barrel, and covering the vents with mesh. A good supply of oxygen helps burn or diminish waste gases, resulting in fewer unhealthful emissions.