the foothill and mountain areas of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
4291 of the California Public Resources Code (PRC 4291) requires the
removal of vegetation that could transmit fire from the natural growth to a
building or structure. The purpose
is to maintain the properties in a fire safe condition by providing a defensible
area should a wildfire occur.
The local fire protection agencies
- The clearance 100 feet or more of flammable vegetation from around
buildings. On steeper parcels,
please consult with your local forestry or fire protection agency on fire
safe clearance requirements. Insurance
companies also have authority to require firebreaks and clearances of more
than 100 feet.
- Maintaining 10 to 15 feet of spacing, both vertically and
horizontally, between shrubs, large plants, and trees.
- Keeping trees trimmed at least 10 feet from any chimney and trim all
dead limbs hanging over your house or garage.
- Removing all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves, and rain gutters.
- Regular watering and weeding of landscaping to keep it fire safe.
- Consultation with your local forestry or fire protection agency for
all open burning is prohibited. However,
Rule 4106 – Prescribed Burning and Hazard Reduction Burning
does allow for the open burning of natural vegetation for maintaining firebreaks
around buildings and structures on properties located within the foothill and
mountain areas of the District. The
materials to be burned must originate from the property on where it was grown.
Transporting the materials to an off-site location for burning is
illegal. Burn permits are
required and may be obtained at your local forestry or fire protection agency
4291 does not require that the vegetation be disposed of by open burning.
The District therefore strongly encourages everyone to consider the
alternatives to open burning first, especially if the proposed burn site is in
or near smoke sensitive populated areas. Alternatives
include chipping, mulching, composting and recycling through your local landfill
or disposal service. However, if
you choose to burn, you may only burn the vegetation that was removed to comply
with PRC 4291.
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Hazard Reduction Burn Permits
Burn Permits are required for any
open burn and are available through your local forestry or fire protection
agency office. Please read and
understand all of the conditions when accepting a burn permit.
Any planned burn project involving
10 or more acres or projected to emit more than one ton of PM10 emissions is
subject to the Smoke Management Plan requirements of Rule 4106.
Such projects are considered Prescribed
Burns may not commence unless a Smoke Management Plan has been submitted and
approved by the District.
Days and No-Burn Days
Hazard Reduction Burning is
permitted when meteorological conditions are forecasted to be good for smoke
dispersal. Such burning may be
conducted on permissive “burn days” during daytime hours, generally from
9:00 AM and no material should be added to an existing fire after 4:00 PM.
Burning at night or on “no burn days” is prohibited.
In addition, your local fire protection agency may impose fire
restrictions and prohibit hazard reduction burning due to elevated risk of fire
To obtain the daily “Burn
Day/No Burn Day” declaration, please telephone the Air District at 1-877-429-2876
(1-877-HAZ-BURN) or visit the
District’s website at www.valleyair.org.
“Burn Days” and “No Burn Days” for hazard reduction burning are
determined and reported daily for areas above and below 3,000 feet elevation for
each county within the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin.
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District Rule 4106 prohibits the
burning any of these materials:
- Household garbage.
- Ornamental shrubbery,
lawn clippings, and weeds.
- Vegetable garden
residue and family orchard pruning.
- Lumber, plywood,
particleboard, and other manufactured wood products.
- Painted or stained
- Roofing materials.
- Construction or
- Furniture and
- Tires and other
- Paints, solvents, and
- Petroleum products,
including waste oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel.
- Electric wire or
metal for salvage.
- Animal carcasses,
manure, hay, and animal bedding materials.
- Anything processed or
a burn barrel to burn any waste material is illegal.
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Equipment used to ignite open burns is limited to those
instruments or materials that will ignite materials without the production of
black smoke. These include liquid
petroleum gas (butane or propane) or diesel fuel burners (drip torches), and
flares where the device produces a flame and the flame is then used to ignite
the material to be burned. Matches
and newspaper may also be used. The
spraying or dousing of any accelerant such as gasoline, diesel, motor oils, or
other such materials to ignite open burns is prohibited and extremely dangerous.
Not Allow Materials to Smolder
A smoldering fire releases twice
the emissions and is a rule violation. Materials
must be dry and loosely stacked or piled. Adding
materials to an existing fire is a way to ensure that it flames quickly and
efficiently to consume the materials and minimize visible smoke.
Leaves and Pine Needles
Burning leaves or pine needles can
create excessive smoke if not burned properly.
Therefore, burning leaves or pine needles is strongly discouraged. The
District encourages you to use non-burning alternatives that may be available to
you in your area. If no
alternatives are available, leaves and pine needles may be burned under the
- Leaves and pine
needles must be dry.
- The materials must be
loosely stacked or piled, or added to an existing fire in such a manner to
ensure that flames quickly and efficiently consume the material.
- The burn pile cannot
be allowed to smolder. A smoldering pile that generates excessive smoke is a
rule violation and must be extinguished.
- Using a propane
burner may be helpful with promoting efficient burning.
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Health Effects From Smoke
Smoke contains pollutants that can
cause a serious threat to human health. The major pollutants of concern are
PM-10 and PM-2.5 (particulate matter less than 10 microns and 2.5 microns in
size, respectively). Other pollutants include hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide,
benzene, aldehydes, and other toxic chemicals.
Immediate health effects from particulate matter include burning and
itching eyes, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks.
Long-term exposure increases the chance of cardiovascular and respiratory
illnesses, cancer, and premature death.
The EPA publication titled “How
Smoke From Fires Can Effect Your Health” can provide you
with more information on the health effects from smoke.
In addition to the health effects,
smoke from open burning can cause a nuisance
to your neighbors, nearby schools, local businesses, and public areas. Excessive
smoke that creates a nuisance is a violation of District rules and will be
subject to penalties. Please
be kind and don’t cause a nuisance to your neighbors.
to File a Complaint
Call the Air District’s Compliance
Department at 1-800-870-1037 to file
an excessive smoke or illegal burn complaint.
Be certain to contact the local fire protection agency immediately if
there is a threat of a fire escaping control.
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Observe the Following Guidelines When Preparing to Burn
- Provide adequate clearance around the fire to avoid its escape.
- Burn only on permissive “burn days” and during daytime hours.
- Burn only vegetation removed for maintaining a fire safe area.
- Be sure that the burn pile is free of all prohibited materials.
- Make sure that the material has been allowed to dry.
- Do not use any flammable liquid, such as gasoline or diesel fuel, to
ignite a fire.
- Be sure the burn does not smolder and cause excessive smoke.
- Do not burn on windy days.
- Attend the burn at all times until extinguished.
- Follow the instructions on the burn permit.
Violations and Penalties
Violations of the Air District’s
open burning regulations may be subject to civil penalties.
If fire escapes your control you may be held liable for all fire
suppression costs and for any property damage caused by the fire. Criminal
charges may also apply in certain cases.
For specific information on fire safety, contact
your local forestry or fire protection agency, including the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
For more information about the air regulations and open burning, please
contact the Compliance
Department of the District.
- Hazard Reduction Burning is allowed in the foothill and mountain
areas of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
- A Hazard Reduction Burn Permit is required and available through
your local forestry or fire protection agency offices.
- The materials to be burned must originate from the property on where
it was grown. Transporting the
materials to an off-site location for burning is illegal.
- Hazard Reduction Burning is authorized on “burn days”, when
meteorological conditions are good for smoke dispersal in specific areas.
Permit holders must call 1-877-429-2876
or access the District’s website at www.valleyair.org
to find out whether Hazard Reduction Burning is authorized for the day.
- “Burn Days” and “No Burn Days” are reported for elevations
above and below 3,000 feet for each county.
- Due to elevated risks of fire danger, the local fire protection
agency may impose fire restrictions and prohibit open burning.
- Use proper and safe ignition devices for starting the burn.
Do not douse gasoline or diesel fuel on a burn pile to ignite a fire.
- Make sure the fuel has been allowed to dry.
A smoldering fire releases twice the emissions and is a rule
- Using a burn barrel to burn any material is illegal.
- Creating a nuisance is a violation subject to penalties.
To file a complaint for excessive smoke or illegal burning, please
call the District at 1-800-870-1037.
- If a fire escapes your control you may be held liable for all fire
suppression costs and for any property damage caused by the fire.
Criminal charges may also apply in certain cases.
For fire safety information, please contact your local fire
protection agency or the California
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Should there ever be a threat of any fire escaping
control, please call your local fire protection agency immediately.