City Home > News

Recreational Fire/Open Burning Guidelines

by Katelyn Stroven
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(Source: 2018 International Fire Code, as amended by the Commission, City of Traverse City)

307.1 General.
A person shall not kindle or maintain or authorize to be kindled or maintained any open burning unless conducted and approved in accordance with Sections 307.1.1 through 307.5.

307.1.1 Prohibited open burning.
Open burning shall be prohibited when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous.

Exception: Prescribed burning for the purpose of reducing the impact of wildland fire when authorized by the fire code official.

307.1.1.2 Prohibited materials.
The open burning of trash, refuse, leaves, grass, rubbish, debris, building materials, or similar items shall not be allowed

307.1.2 Definitions
BONFIRE. An outdoor fire utilized for ceremonial purposes.

OPEN BURNING. The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. Open burning does not include road flares, smudgepots and similar devices associated with safety or occupational uses typically considered open flames, recreational fires or use of portable outdoor fireplaces. For the purpose of this definition, a chamber shall be regarded as enclosed when, during the time combustion occurs, only apertures, ducts, stacks, flues or chimneys necessary to provide combustion air and permit the escape of exhaust gas are open.

OUTDOOR FIREPLACE permanent or portable outdoor burning devices, and are designed to burn wood, other combustible materials or propane. Outdoor fireplaces are used by residents in their yards for ambience (effect) and to provide a small amount of warmth. Portable outdoor fireplaces are manufactured in various shapes and sizes and are usually constructed of metal, concrete, or clay. Outdoor fireplaces consist of a firebox and chimney stack.

RECREATIONAL FIRE. An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet (914 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.

307.2 Permit required.
A permit shall be obtained from the Fire Code Official in accordance with Section 105.6 prior to kindling a recreational fire. Application for such approval shall only be presented by and permits issued to the owner of, or with written permission of the land upon which the recreational fire is to kindled.

307.2.1 Authorization.
Where required by state or local law or regulations, open burning shall only be permitted with prior approval from the state or local air and water quality management authority, provided that all conditions

specified in the authorization are followed. The State of Michigan shall have final authority over condition approval for open burning. Consult for open burning conditions.

307.3 Extinguishment authority.
The Fire Code Official is authorized to order the extinguishment by the permit holder, another person responsible or the fire department of recreational fires that creates or adds to a hazard or nuisance situation.

307.4 Location.
Recreational fires shall be conducted at a location as specified within this code, and approved by the Fire Code Official. The location for open burning shall not be less than 50 feet (15 240 mm) from any structure, and provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading to within 50 feet (15 240 mm) of any structure.


1. Fires in approved containers that are not less than 15 feet (4572 mm) from a structure.

2. The minimum required distance from a structure shall be 25 feet (7620 mm) where the pile size is 3 feet (914 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height.

307.4.1 Bonfires.

A bonfire shall not be allowed within the City of Traverse City.

307.4.2 Recreational fires.

Recreational fires shall be conducted at a location as specified within this code, and approved by the Fire Code Official. Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure or combustible material. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

307.4.3 Portable outdoor fireplaces.

Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet (3048 mm) of a structure or combustible material.

Exception: Portable outdoor fireplaces used at one- and two-family dwellings.

307.5 Attendance.
Recreational fires shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906 with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as a water barrel, garden hose, or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.

For more information regarding recreational fires within the City of Traverse City, please contact Fire Marshal Mike Sheets at 231-922-4930 ext. 3 or by email