Open Burning in Louisville
It is illegal to burn trash and yard waste in Louisville, though certain recreational, ceremonial, agricultural, and fire training open burns may be considered lawful if you follow the law and obtain required permits. Basic guidelines may be found below, and more detailed information can be found in APCD Regulation 1.11: Control of Open Burning. The Air Pollution Control District enforces open burning regulations in Louisville, but fires are also subject to approval from your local fire department.
If you plan to burn, it is your responsibility to know and follow open burning rules and regulations and to obtain any required permits.
What are the fire and open burning rules in Louisville?
Recreational and Ceremonial Fires:
- You may only burn clean, dry firewood. Burning trash and yard waste is illegal in Louisville/Jefferson County.
- You may hold a recreational or ceremonial burn if you use a legal fire pit, either commercially built or constructed with brick, concrete, stone, or metal. If you do not have a permit the burn area may be no larger than 3 feet long by 3 feet wide by 3 feet high.
- You may hold a recreational or ceremonial burn in a fire pit with a burn area up to 5 feet long by 5 feet wide by 5 feet high if you apply for and receive a recreational fire permit from the APCD.
- Recreational fires that are larger than 5 feet long by 5 feet wide by 5 feet high are not permitted.
- You may have a fire to cook food for a non-commercial purpose, such as a backyard cookout.
- The applicant is responsible for conducting, controlling and extinguishing the fire.
- For more information, including what is an acceptable fire pit, see Recreational Fires FAQs.
- Agricultural fires for weed, disease, or pest control and controlled burns for forest, orchard, range, native grassland or wildlife management are legal if you apply for and receive an Agricultural open burning permit.
- Requires approval of the local fire protection district and, in some cases, the Soil & Water Conservation District.
- A burn plan is required for controlled burns that do not qualify as agricultural burns.
- Fires can be set for fire-fighting training if a Fire Training Burn Application is applied for and approved by the APCD at least five working days in advance of the fire.
- Permits available only for bona fide fire instruction and training of public and industrial employees.
- All asbestos-containing material and roofing material must be removed prior to structure fire training.
Even legal fires are not allowed if it is an Air Quality Alert day or if winds are blowing more than 15 mph. If you are holding a fire it is your responsibility to be aware of these possibilities.
Why are fires and open burning restricted?
As defined in APCD Regulation 1.02, "open burning" means "the burning of any matter in such a manner that the products of combustion resulting from the burning are emitted directly into the outside air without passing through a stack, chimney, vent, or other functionally equivalent opening."
Any fire releases harmful materials. Emissions from fires include fine particle pollution (PM10 and PM2.5), toxic chemicals, carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), carbon monoxide, and precursors to ground-level ozone formation, oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds. Burning garbage can produce even larger quantities of toxic materials, such as dioxins. The pollutants released by fires can cause or exacerbate respiratory issues, heart issues, damage the nervous system, and cause other health issues.
No one fire is likely to affect all of Louisville's air, but in a large metropolitan area like Louisville a significant, unhealthy, and unsafe amount of air pollution would be produced if open burning was completely unrestricted.
Resources & Information
- Permit Application Forms
- Recreational Fire FAQs
- For Kentucky residents outside Louisville/Jefferson County, see open burning information from the Kentucky Division for Air Quality and the Kentucky State Open Burning Regulation.
- For Indiana residents, see open burning information from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
- Alternatives to Open Burning