Open Burning



“Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”



January 15 – May 1

Permit Fee – $15.00


Burning is allowed for the following materials, with a permit:

  1. Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land clearing operations.
  2. Agricultural materials such as fruit tree and bush prunings, raspberry stalks, and infected bee hives for disease control.
  3. Trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
  4. Fungus infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available.

Burning of the following materials is prohibited statewide:

  1. Brush, trees, cane and driftwood from commercial and/or industrial land clearing operations.
  2. Grass, hay, leaves, stumps, and tires.
  3. Construction material and debris.

How to safely ignite and burn the fire

An adult should always be present during open burning. Children and pets should be kept a safe distance away. Use paper and kindling to start the fire and add progressively larger pieces of wood. Parts of a discarded Christmas tree can be used. Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire because the risk of personal injury is high. Burn one small pile of material at a time and slowly add to it. This helps to keep the fire from getting out of control.

To receive a permit, you must call the Pelham Fire Department at 253-3311. An inspection will be conducted the first time you call and your permit will be issued. Once issued a permit, you need only call and leave a message indicating your name, location and the day(s) you plan to burn.

(Please no E-mail request for permits)

Burning will be permitted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

All fires must be at least 75′ from any dwelling.

Materials shall not be piled to exceed a height of three (3) feet.

Shall not exceed a width of ten (10) feet and not to exceed a length of ten (10) feet.

Burning will be permitted only between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

– All Fires to be Extinguished/Completely Out by 4:00 pm –

Note: In case of heavy winds or otherwise dangerous or environmental conditions, permits will be invalid as provided by law.



Outdoor burning is allowed throughout the year for cooking purposes only if small in nature and does not result in a nuisance call to the fire department.

The fire code official is authorized to order the extinguishment by the responsible person, or the fire department, of any burning that creates or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation.

Open burning for campfires and outdoor cooking is permitted without any burning permit/notification if performed in an approved container constructed of steel, brick, or masonry.

For clarity, a “fire pit” includes belowground pits, freestanding fireplaces, and portable devices intended to contain and control outdoor fires.

All belowground fire pits shall be at least four inches in depth and shall be surrounded on the outside, aboveground, by a non-combustible material such as steel, brick, or masonry. The fire pit cannot exceed three feet in diameter, nor may the fire pile exceed two feet in height.

Fire pits may be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and these regulations:

  • Only natural firewood/commercial logs may be burned.
    • Burning of lumber, pallets, scrap wood, tree trimmings, leaves, yard waste, paper, cardboard, garbage and similar items is not permitted.
  • All fire pits must be located away from any structure or combustible material.
    • Belowground fire pits and freestanding fireplaces must be located a minimum of 25 feet away from any structure or combustible material.
    • Portable fire pits must be located a minimum of 15 feet away from any structure or combustible material.
  • The fire must be constantly attended and supervised until the fire has been completely extinguished.
  • A portable fire extinguisher or other approved extinguishing equipment, such as a garden hose, must be readily available.



– Agricultural –

Massachusetts General Laws:



Chapter 111: Section 142L. Agricultural burning

Section 142L. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections one hundred and forty-two A to one hundred and forty-two E, inclusive, the burning of tree prunings, diseased plant materials, and brush from land clearing operations, which are the direct result of the normal commercial pursuit of agriculture, as defined in section one A of chapter one hundred and twenty-eight, shall be allowed subject to the permission of the local fire chief which need not be in writing. Said permission shall be based solely upon whether or not appropriate meteorological conditions exist to ensure safe burning.




Chapter 128: Section 1A. Farming, agriculture, farmer; definitions

Section 1A. “Farming” or “agriculture” shall include farming in all of its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil, dairying, the production, cultivation, growing and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural or horticultural commodities, the growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, the raising of livestock including horses, the keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise, the keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle and other domesticated animals used for food purposes, bees, fur-bearing animals, and any forestry or lumbering operations, performed by a farmer, who is hereby defined as one engaged in agriculture or farming as herein defined, or on a farm as an incident to or in conjunction with such farming operations, including preparations for market, delivery to storage or to market or to carriers for transportation to market.


– Ceremonial Bonfires –

 527 CMR 1.00, Section Bonfires and the Burning of Christmas Trees Ceremonial Bonfires. The city council of a city with the approval of its mayor, or the board of selectmen or town council of a town, may authorize the fire department of such city or town to issue not more than one permit in any one year for a ceremonial bonfire. Such bonfires shall mark the observance of a significant municipal, state or national event, and such ceremonial bonfire shall be under the continuous supervision of the fire department. Only wood which has not been painted, impregnated, or otherwise treated with any foreign substance shall be permitted to burn in ceremonial bonfires. No bonfire shall burn for more than 12 hours. (M.G.L. c. 111, § 142 H.) Bonfires from July 2 to July 6. Any civic, fraternal, veteran, community or business organization may build and ignite bonfires under the supervision and control of the fire department of the city or town in which such burning takes place during the period from July 2 to July 6. (M.G.L. c. 111, § 142I.) Burning of Christmas Trees. Any person may burn Christmas trees during the period from December 26 to January 7, provided that such burning is under the supervision and control of the fire department. (M.G.L. c. 111, § 142G.)