Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon

Burn Permits

Sticks on fire at night

Permits are free - unnecessary fire calls are not! If you have questions about open air fires, Essex Fire and Rescue urges you to call before you burn: 519-776-7132.

How to obtain a burn permit

If you are planning an open air fire, please notify the fire department by completing the following online form:

Button linking to online burn permit form

In order to successfully complete the form, you must confirm that you have read and understand the by-law. A link to the by-law is included on the form.

As permits are issued on a daily basis, residents who plan to have open fires on more than one day must complete a separate form for each proposed burn.

After you submit the form you will be sent a confirmation of receipt.

Requirements contained in the open air burning by-law must be met at all times. A summary of the requirements appears below.

Open air burn by-law

The Town of Essex regulates the setting of open air fires through By-law 1399.

Cooking fires, camp fires and enclosed fires are allowed and do not require a permit, provided they fall within the limits set out in the by-law.

Other open air fires DO require a permit, which must be obtained in advance. Open air fires may include backyard bonfires, large campfires and fires set by farmers for the disposal of vegetable matter or vegetation on farm lands.


For inquiries about open air burning, please contact Essex Fire and Rescue Services by calling Station 1 at 519-776-7132. Phones are answered as follows:

  • Monday: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday and Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Permits will not be granted through voicemail.

Residents must receive confirmation from the Fire Department prior to lighting any fires.

For any complaint concerning open burning, smoke or smell of smoke, call Essex Fire & Rescue from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, Weekends and holidays please dial 911.

If Essex Fire attends to a complaint and the fire does not meet the guidelines set out in our municipal By-Law, or if the fire department has not been notified of a planned burn, they will be asked to extinguish the fire.

General provisions for open air fires

(Excluding cooking fires, enclosed fires and camp fires)

  • Residents must obtain a permit in advance.
  • No person under 18 years of age shall set, maintain or supervise any fire.
  • Permit holder must be the legal property owner or have written owner consent.
  • Permit holder, or designate listed on the permit, must have readily available a suitable means of extinguishing the fire and must remain in attendance until the fire is completely extinguished.
  • Size of the fire must not exceed 3 feet long by 3 feet wide by 3 feet high (91cm x 91cm x 91 cm), or the limit set by the Fire Chief or designate.
  • Distance from buildings, structures, hedges, fences, roadways, overhead wires, property lines, or nature must not be less than 21 feet (7 metres), or the limit set by the Fire Chief or designate.
  • No person shall set or maintain an open air fire after sunset and prior to sunrise on the day or days specified on the permit.
  • No person shall set fire to materials or waste from commercial, industrial, construction or demolition sites.
  • No person shall set fire to kitchen garbage or materials made of or containing rubber, plastic or tar.
  • Permit holder must ensure that the fire does not create a nuisance. If smoke or embers travel to a neighbouring property or decrease visibility on any roadway, you must extinguish the fire.
  • Permit holder must prevent the potential spread of fire through grass, leaves, brush, ditch banks or other vegetated areas.

Cooking fires and personal warmth devices

A permit is not required for domestic barbecues and permanent outdoor fireplaces used solely for the cooking of food on a grill.

Domestic personal warmth devices that use natural gas, propane, charcoal or clean dry wood do not require a permit.

Camp fires and fires set in outdoor fire containers

Camp fires and fires set in containers such as chimineas, metal tubs or fire pits are permitted and do not require a permit provided that:

  • The container is made from non-combustible material.
  • The size of the fire does not exceed 2 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet high (61cm x 61cm x 61 cm).
  • Only clean dry wood or charcoal is being burned.
  • All materials to be burned are contained within the perimeter of the container.
  • The perimeter of the fire is a minimum of 15 feet (4.5 metres) away from any property line and a minimum of 10 feet (3 metres) from permanent combustible structures or objects.

Enclosed fires

Enclosed fires set within a burn barrel or container of similar construction and size, such as a 45 gallon drum, are permitted and do not require a permit provided that:

  • The fire is contained and covered at all times by a suitable metal wire mesh.
  • The metal wire mesh used to cover the fire has grid openings not exceeding .25 inches (6mm) in size.
  • Only clean dry wood or charcoal is being burned.
  • The perimeter of the fire is a minimum of 15 feet (4.5 metres) away from any property line and a minimum of 10 feet (3 metres) from permanent combustible structures or objects.

Offence and enforcement

An Enforcement Officer, including Police Officer or By-Law Enforcement Officer, may order a fire to be extinguished immediately if the fire:

  • Is not set in compliance with this by-law, or
  • Is determined upon inspection by the Officer to constitute a safety hazard or concern.

An Officer may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether this by-law, an Order to Discontinue Activity, an Order to Extinguish, or an Order under section 431 of the Municipal Act, 2001 is being complied with.

A person who is convicted of an offence under this by-law is liable to a fine and penalty as set out in the by-law. In addition, the Town of Essex shall be entitled to recover all costs incurred by the Fire Department in extinguishing a fire set in contravention of this by-law.