Outdoor Fires

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Recreational fires, portable outdoor fireplaces/fire pits, stationary outdoor fireplaces and stationary outdoor fire pits are regulated by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code and DON’T require an open-burning operational permit. Fire safety is still the responsibility of anyone setting a fire regardless to whether a permit is required or not.

Recreational Fires

Recreational fires are defined by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code as fires 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes. Recreational fires are NOT considered open burning and do not require an open burning operational permit.

  • Recreational fires shall be at least 25 feet from a structure or combustible material.
  • Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
  • Shall not be used to burn rubbish, yard waste, or burn material contained in an incinerator.
  • Outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills, barbecue pits, or bonfires are not considered recreational fires

Portable Outdoor Fireplaces/Fire Pits

  • Portable outdoor fireplaces/fire pits are defined by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code as a portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney opening in the top.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces are NOT considered open burning and do not require an open burning operational permit.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
    Exception: Portable outdoor fireplaces used at one- and two-family dwellings.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.
    Exception: Portable outdoor fireplaces used at one- and two-family dwellings.
  • Shall not be used to burn rubbish or yard waste.

Per the two exceptions above, there is no separation requirement between a portable outdoor fireplaces/fire pits and a one- or two-family dwellings.

Stationary Outdoor Fireplaces

Stationary outdoor fireplaces are site constructed, permanent in nature, solid-fuel-burning, and may be constructed of stone, brick, concrete, clay, or other noncombustible material. A stationary outdoor fireplace will normally have a hearth, fire box, and chimney or stack. Stationary outdoor fireplaces are NOT considered open burning and do not require an open burning operational permit.

  • Stationary outdoor fireplaces must be at least 5 feet from property lines and require a building permit for construction if it is located less than 10 feet from any building or roofed structure or if the length or width of the fireplace is greater than 12 feet.
  • If the fireplace is within 10 feet of any building or roofed structure, the chimney of the fireplace must extend at least 2 feet above the building or roofed structure.
  • Shall not be used to burn rubbish or yard waste.

Stationary Outdoor Fire Pits

Stationary outdoor fire pits are site constructed, permanent in nature, solid-fuel-burning and may be constructed of stone, brick, concrete, metal, or other noncombustible material. The stationary outdoor fire pit may be dug in the ground or above ground and is designed to contain a fire and prevent it from spreading.

  • Stationary outdoor fire pits are NOT considered open burning and do not require an open burning operational permit.
  • Stationary outdoor fire pits must be at least 5 feet from property lines.
  • At least 15 feet from structures to include decks.

Shall not be used to burn rubbish or yard waste.

Open Burning

Open burning in the Town of Cary is regulated by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code and the Town of Cary Code of Ordinances and is prohibited unless an open-burning operational permit is issued by the Town's Inspections and Permits Department Fire Division.

  • The North Carolina Fire Prevention Code defines open burning as 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.
  • 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.

Bonfires

Bonfires are defined by the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code as an outdoor fire utilized for ceremonial purposes. These are typically large fires in conjunction with a planned event such as a school prep rally or holiday event.

  • Bonfires ARE considered open burning and do require an open burning operational permit.
  • A bonfire shall not be conducted within 50 feet of a structure or combustible material and conditions, which could cause the fire to spread within 50 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
  • Shall not be used to burn rubbish or yard waste.

Land Clearing

  • Outdoor burning for land clearing activities due to site development in the Town of Cary jurisdiction is regulated by the Town of Cary Code of Ordinances (Section 16-2) and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
  • Outdoor burning for the purpose of land clearing IS considered open burning and does require an open burning operational permit.
  • Open burning for land clearing requires 1,000-feet separation to any dwelling or structure not on the property.

The fee for a 30-day, open-burning operational permit for site development is $100.

Contact

Fire Division
Inspections & Permits Department
(919) 469-4351