Burning Information

Is it currently okay to burn?

Graham Fire & Rescue appreciates the public's cooperation with burn bans, and encourage citizens to check current air quality conditions and air quality forecasts at Puget Sound Clean Air as conditions can change quickly in the Puget Sound. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has created a convenient flyer that outlines the health risks of breathing smoke and what is banned during an air quality burn ban, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

Additionally, citizens can sign up on the Puget Sound Clean Air website to receive alerts when an Air Quality Burning Ban is issued or lifted by visiting their Burn Bans page.

Response to Burning Complaints

If you have a burning complaint which presents hazard to persons or property, please dial 9-1-1 to report the burning.

Puget Sound Clean Air agency is the regulatory authority for smoke and clean air issues. If you wish to report a complaint regarding burning that is causing excess smoke or clean air issues, please contact Puget Sound Clean Air Agency either online via the Air Quality Complaint Center , or via phone at 1-800-552-3565, ext. 6.

The phone number is a recorded line with a monitored voicemail box where you can leave a message and receive a call back.

For the most prompt response, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency recommends using the online Air Quality Complaint Center.

Land-Clearing Burning

Land-clearing burning is defined as outdoor burning of trees, stumps, shrubbery, or other natural vegetation from land clearing projects (i.e., projects that clear the land surface so it can be developed, used for a different purpoes, or left unused). [WAC 173-425-030 (9)]

Land-clearing burning is prohibited in Pierce County since July, 2008. Alternatively, the Hidden Valley Transfer Station located on Meridian just south of 176th currently accepts yard waste free.

For additional information regarding land-clearing and alternative disposal methods, you can visit the Pierce County Public Works and Utilities page or the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Residential and Recreational Burning

Residential outdoor burning in the designated burn areas of Graham will remain legal for the foreseeable future. This type of burning is done by residents who have sufficient clear property to burn legalliy. Residential burn permits are issued at no charge by Graham Fire & Rescue. This burn permits are valid for 365 days, or one (1) year, from the date of issuance. Residents can burn natural vegetation that comes from their property, such as branches, leaves, clippings, etc. The burn pile may not be larger than four (4) feet in diameter and must have a minimum of thirty (30) feet of clearance from all other combustibles, including but not limited to: structures, fences, decks, etc. Residents are also responsible for directly attending the fire while flames are visible. Violations of these rules are subject to fines from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Burn permits are limited only to outdoor burning in designated areas. Other areas have PERMANENT outdoor burn bans imposed by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. When any burn ban is OFF and outdoor burning is allowed, it is only allowed in areas of Graham Fire & Rescue's response area that are south or east of the "No Burn Line." This line typically follows the urban growth booundary, which can be viewed at the Pierce County Map Gallery , or is shown as the solid red line on our Map of the District.

On December 12, 2011, Graham Fire & Rescue updated Resolution #786 to provide definitions for both Residential and Recreational burns. The definitions as provided in Resolution #786 are listed below, and can be viewed by clicking on the respective type of burning.

Definition of Residential Burning

Residential Fires: shall be lawful withing the Designated Burning Areas, provided the District has first issued and documented a written permit for this type of burning and the following terms and conditions for burning are continuously met:
  • Residential yard waste burning means outdoor burning by a property owner or person authorized by a property owner of leaves, clippings, branches under three inches in diameter, and other natural vegetation materials from the property.
  • Residential burn piles may not be closer than 30 feet to any structure including fences, decks, and tree stands, outbuildings, standing vegetation (fuel package) or other combustible material that may promote fire spread.
  • Residential burn piles may not be larger than four feet in diameter and no higher than three feet.
  • Only natural vegetation originating on the property may be burned. Natural vegetation means unprocessed plant material from herbs, shrubbery, and trees, including grass, weeds, leaves, clippings, pruning’s, brush, branches, roots, split stumps, and trunk wood. All other materials are prohibited in residential burn piles.
  • Only paper and/or paper products may be burned in very limited quantities for the sole purpose of igniting a residential burn pile.
  • Residential burning may neither be ignited nor added to between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. daily.
  • A competent person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times, and the fire must be extinguished before leaving it.
  • Fire extinguishing equipment such as a charged garden hose, 5-gallon container of water, or fire extinguisher rated not less than 4-A shall be immediately available and in close proximity to the fire. Hand tools such as shovels should be available where possible.
  • No residential burning is permitted during burn ban periods.
  • Residential burning shall be immediately discontinued when fire borne emissions are offensive to occupants of surrounding property or otherwise creating a nuisance, or if burning is unreasonably interfering with the enjoyment of life and/or property, or if the fire is determined to constitute a hazard to the health, safety, or welfare of other persons or property.
  • Residential burning must display efficient combustion and may only occur when atmospheric conditions permit smoke and all other products of combustion to rise in a substantially vertical direction.
    • Residential burning shall not be ignited / continued during periods of rainfall where moisture causes incomplete combustion.
    • Residential burn permits are issued from Fire Stations 91, 94 and 96 during weekday, business hours. The Fire District will not issue burning permits during an active burn ban period. Issued burn permits are good and valid for a one year period. Persons must renew burn permits in person at one of the listed fire stations after expiration. Burn permits may not be extended over the phone, verbally or electronically.
  • Residential burning on private property may only be conducted by the property owner, or by persons who reside on property and have written authorization from the property owner to ignite a residential burn.
  • Only one fire pile shall be burned at a time and extinguished before another is ignited.

Definition of Recreational Burning

Recreational Fires: meaning cooking fires, campfires, and bonfires using charcoal or firewood that occur in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure, or ceremonial purposes. Fires used for debris disposal purposes are not considered recreational fires. Recreational fires do not require a written permit and may occur in designated no burn areas provided such fire is continuously in compliance with the following terms and conditions:
  • Recreational fires may not be closer than 15 feet to any structure including fences, decks, tree stands, outbuildings, standing vegetation (fuel packages) or other combustible material(s) that may promote fire spread.
  • Recreational fires must be contained in a gapless ring made of concrete, masonry, rock and mortar, or steel. The burning area within the ring may not be larger than three feet in diameter. The height of the ring may not exceed two feet above ground level.
  • Only charcoal products or seasoned firewood may be burned. Burning material may not extend above the top of the ring.
  • Recreational fires may neither be ignited nor added to between the hours of 11:00 PM and 8:00 AM daily.
  • A competent person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend at all times, and the fire must be extinguishedbefore leaving it.
  • Fire extinguishing equipment such as a charged garden hose, 5-gallon container of water, fire extinguisher rated not less than 4-A, and/or hand tools shall be immediately available and in close proximity to the fire.
  • Recreational Fires are authorized to be ignited during periods of Stage/Phase I bans. Recreational Fires are not authorized and may not be ignited during periods of Stage/Phase II or greater burn bans.
  • Recreational fires shall be immediately discontinued when fire borne emissions are offensive to occupants of surrounding property, or when burning is reasonably interfering with the enjoyment of life and/or property, or if the fire is determined to constitute a hazard to the health, safety, or welfare of other persons or property.
  • Recreational fires on private property may only be conducted by the property owner, or by persons who reside on the property and have written authorization from the property owner to ignite a recreational fire.

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