Learn Before You Burn
Kentucky has laws to protect public health from outdoor or open burning. Before you light that burn pile, make sure you are doing so in a safe and legal manner. This list provides a quick summary of what you can and can’t burn under Kentucky’s open burning regulation. For information about open burning in Jefferson County, please visit Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District's open burning page.
What can I burn?
Except when a fire emergency is declared, small wood fires for warmth, cooking and camping are generally permitted across Kentucky. In some areas, local ordinances may require a burn permit first; always check with your local government before burning.
Wood bonfires, burning natural growth from land clearing, agricultural plant beds, and prescribed burning for land management are generally permitted throughout the year except for the counties listed below during ozone season.
What can't I burn?
Most materials are illegal to burn outdoors because they emit harmful air pollutants. Plastics, food scraps, treated or painted wood, tires, and most household trash items are illegal to dispose of by burning. This list details what you can and can’t burn, and our open burning brochure explains Kentucky's open burning regulation in easy-to-understand language. Violating state air quality regulations could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day.
How can I report illegal open burning?
Call 502-782-6592 to report suspected illegal burning or to find out more about Kentucky’s open burning regulation. After hours, leave a message and someone will respond as soon as possible. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org .
All open burning is prohibited when a fire emergency is declared. Check the Division of Forestry's county burn ban page for the most up-to-date information on county burn bans.
Fire Hazard Season
Oct. 1 – Dec. 15 and Feb. 15 – Apr. 30: Burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland area is allowed only in the evening hours between 6 pm and 6 am.
From May 1st - September 30th, open burning is further restricted in the following counties:
- Lawrence (partial)
During ozone season, outdoor burning of household rubbish, brush, tree limbs, leaves and natural growth from land clearing are not permitted in these counties. Open burning is restricted year-round in Jefferson County, not just during ozone season.
Open burning impacts the air you breathe
A single backyard burn barrel can emit a surprising amount of harmful pollutants, including:
• Fine particulate matter
• Nitrogen oxides that lead to ground-level ozone pollution
• Volatile organic compounds
• Carbon monoxide
• Cancer-causing chemicals such as dioxins and furans
Spread the word
Want to help educate others about open burning? Our "Learn before You Burn" brochure explains what you can and can't burn in an easy-to-read format. Contact us to order free copies.