The law

If you live in Northwestern, Northeastern or North-Central Ontario, you must follow certain rules to have an outdoor fire.

The northwest region is north and west of Sault Saint Marie, the east region is east of Sault Saint Marie, areas south of Owen Sound and Ottawa are outside the fire region.

Figure 1 – Legislated fire region of Ontario

By law, you need a fire permit to burn wood, brush, leaves and grass outside during the fire season (April 1 – October 31) unless you follow all the rules outlined below and:

  • conditions allow it to burn safely until extinguished
  • you take all necessary steps to tend, control and extinguish the fire
  • you are not having an open fire in a restricted fire zone

If you don’t burn safely or burn material without a permit when one is needed, you can be fined and held responsible for the cost of putting out the fire and for any property damage.

Find out where fires are restricted in Ontario

Source law

You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to fire permits in:

Rules to burn wood, brush and leaves

You don’t need a fire permit to burn piled wood, brush, leaves or wood by-products if you follow these rules:

  • ignite the fire no sooner than two hours before sunset and extinguish it no later than two hours after sunrise
  • burn only a single pile at any one time
  • ensure the pile is less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high
  • keep the fire at least two metres from any flammable materials
  • have tools or water on hand adequate to contain the fire at the fire site
  • ensure a responsible person tends the fire until it is extinguished

Using an incinerator

You don’t need a fire permit to burn piled wood, brush, leaves or wood by-products in an incinerator if you:

  • ensure the incinerator is an enclosed device constructed entirely of non-combustible material
  • cover the outlet of the incinerator with a screen having a mesh size of not more than 5 millimetres
  • keep the incinerator at least five metres from any forest area
  • keep the incinerator at least two metres from any flammable material
  • ensure a responsible person monitors the fire until it is extinguished

Rules to burn grass or leaf litter

You don’t need a fire permit to burn areas of grass or leaf litter on land you lawfully occupy if you:

  • ignite the fire no sooner than two hours before sunset and extinguish it no later than two hours after sunrise
  • keep the total area to be burned under one hectare
  • ensure the flaming edge of the fire does not exceed 30 metres in length
  • have tools or water on hand adequate to contain the fire at the fire site
  • ensure a responsible person tends the fire until it is extinguished

You must also follow your local municipality’s open burning by-laws or restrictions.

Read more about how to burn grass and woody debris safely.

How to get a permit

You will need a fire permit if you can’t meet the conditions outlined above.

To get a permit, contact your local municipality or the nearest Fire Management Headquarters. If you live in a municipality, you must contact the local municipal office as well.

Updated: June 02, 2021
Published: July 17, 2014