Burn Permits Overview

Burning in the Town of Oregon, the Town of Dunn, and the Town of Rutland is permitted, provided it adheres to the specific restrictions outlined for each area.

  • Prior to initiating any burning within the Fire/EMS District, notification must be given to the Fire Department.
  • Individuals engaged in burning are liable for all resulting damages and the costs associated with extinguishing the fire.
  • The Chief reserves the right to impose restrictions on outdoor burning due to atmospheric conditions at any time. Please refer to this website regularly for updates on any outdoor burning restrictions that may be in effect.
  • Burn permits will not be issued on days when the DNR declares the fire danger in Dane County to be high, very high, or extreme, as indicated on this link.

For the specific restrictions applicable to your area, please follow the provided links.

Burning Safety:

Burning Waste Materials in Burn Barrels:
The pollutants from burn barrels vary based on the type of waste materials burned. Typically, emissions include dioxins, furans, halogenated hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, lead, barium, chromium, cadmium, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, and mercury. Burn barrels often emit acid vapors and carcinogenic tars. Pound for pound, garbage burned in a burn barrel releases twice as many furans, 17 times more dioxin, and 40 times more ash than a municipal incinerator. A 1997 EPA study demonstrated that two to forty households burning garbage could produce as much dioxin as a 200-ton-per-day municipal incinerator with air pollution controls. Municipal incinerators operate at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure complete combustion and use efficient filters to reduce harmful emissions. In contrast, burn barrels emit more pollutants because they operate at lower temperatures (400-500 degrees Fahrenheit), leading to incomplete combustion. The emissions are concentrated close to the ground, increasing the risk of direct exposure to harmful pollutants. The closer one stands to the burn barrel, the greater the risk of inhaling these harmful chemicals.

Residual ash is another concern, often resulting from incomplete combustion. Frequently, a significant portion of the material in the barrel, especially at the bottom, is not fully burned. Improper disposal of ash outside of a sanitary landfill can cause environmental problems. Additionally, ash particulates can irritate the eyes and throat, restrict visibility, damage the lungs, cause bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and adversely affect individuals with asthma or certain allergies. Ash also contains heavy metals that may seep into groundwater.

Burning Leaf and Yard Waste:
The smoke from numerous simultaneous leaf fires can pose significant health risks. It can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat of healthy adults, and is more harmful to small children, the elderly, and individuals with asthma or other lung or heart diseases. The visible smoke from leaf fires consists almost entirely of tiny particles that can penetrate deep into lung tissue, causing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath, which may not manifest until several days after exposure.

Leaf smoke contains hazardous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and benzo(a)pyrene. Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen in the blood and lungs, posing a danger to young children, smokers, the elderly, and those with chronic heart or lung diseases. Benzo(a)pyrene, known to cause cancer in animals and a major factor in lung cancer from cigarette smoke, is also present in leaf smoke.

EPA studies have shown that air pollutant concentrations from leaf burning can sometimes exceed federal air quality standards. In some areas, leaf and brush burning may cause higher levels of air pollution than all other sources combined, including factories, vehicles, and lawn and garden equipment. Leaf burning can also reduce visibility, create safety hazards, soil buildings and other property, and strain local police and fire protection resources.

Though leaf burning may be legal in many localities, it is not an advisable method for disposing of fallen leaves. Alternatives include:

  • Composting leaves and plant clippings, especially after shredding them to reduce volume.
  • Chipping brush and clean wood to create mulch or decorative chips.
  • Utilizing municipal collection services, if available, or advocating for such a service or a drop-off center in your local area.
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