Open Air Burn Policy

Effective April 2020

Fire Marshal Office Badge

Pursuant to the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, as amended, open-air burning of leaves, grass, straw, vines and growing wood for residential property owners without an operational fire code permit is allowed in the City of Chesapeake. However, the guidelines listed here must be adhered to:

  1. Some type of water source must be available at the site of the fire to insure it is controlled.
  2. Burning during periods of high wind or low humidity or Red Flag warning issued by the National Weather Services is prohibited.
  3. Burning must be conducted in a small pile and a minimum distance of 50 feet from any structures must be maintained. The burn pile cannot be any larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet.
  4. If burning is conducted in a barrel it must have a covering screen and be located a minimum distance of 15 feet from any structures and must be maintained. Burning shall not include the burning of waste, trash, rubbish or similar materials.
  5. Additional material to be burned must be located at least 50 feet away from the burn pile or burn barrel.
  6. A responsible person must be in attendance at the fire at all times. (Definition of Attendance: To maintain full and uninterrupted visual contact with the burn site, remaining within 100 feet of the site at all times.)
  7. Burning on the City's right-of-way is prohibited. Burning on the City's streets and in roadside ditches is also prohibited.
  8. From February 15th through April 30th, the burning of any brush, leaves, grass, debris or field containing dry grass or other flammable material capable of spreading fire is prohibited except between the hours of 4 p.m. and 12 midnight if such burning is conducted within 300 feet of any woodland or brush land. Please visit the City of Chesapeake's Fire Department website for additional information on the 4 p.m. Burn Law.
  9. If in the opinion of the Fire Marshal, or his designee, the burn site is creating an abnormal nuisance or hazard, the fire may be ordered extinguished. If the fire is ordered extinguished, the fire must be completely extinguished and cannot be restarted for 24 hours.
  10. If a smoke complaint is received the fire will be ordered extinguished and cannot be restarted for 24 hours.
  11. All land clearing burning must be issued an operational fire code permit from the Chesapeake Fire Prevention Office.
  12. All agricultural burnings larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet pile must be issued an operational fire code permit from the Chesapeake Fire Prevention Office.
  13. All commercial open-air burning must have an operational fire code permit.

Note: This policy in no way eliminates the liability of the property owner or person conducting the burning from damage caused by the spread of fire. Additionally, should the smoke or odor emission of any fire become offensive or objectionable, the fire official shall order its extinguishment.

If you have any questions regarding this policy, please call 757-382-6566, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.