The Kansas Open Burning Regulations (K.A.R. 28-19-645 thru K.A.R. 28-19-648)
To read all the Air Quality Statues and Regulations for the State of Kansas, please visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website.
In Johnson County, open burning is regulated by both the state air quality regulations as well as local fire codes, administered and enforced by our local fire departments or districts. Air quality regulations address public health as well as environmental protection. Fire codes are for the protection of life and property.
There is some overlap of the air quality regulations and the local fire codes. For the fire departments or districts that allow some type of open burning, an open burning permit is almost always required. But under state air quality regulations, an open burning exemption (same as burn permit) is required only in certain circumstances. As a result, for certain types of burning, you may have to obtain a burn permit from the fire department and a burn exemption from our office.
When to Contact the Fire Department
Under the state air quality regulation K.A.R. 28-19-647(a), if you are involved in the following activities, you DO NOT NEED AN OPEN BURNING PERMIT FROM JCDHE, but you must contact your local fire department to see if you need a burn permit under the fire code:
a) The following open burning operations shall be exempt from the prohibition on the open burning of any materials imposed by K.A.R. 28-19-645:
- open burning carried out on a residential premise containing five or less dwelling units and incidental to the normal habitation of the dwelling units, unless prohibited by any local authority with jurisdiction over the premises;
- open burning for cooking or ceremonial purposes, on public or private lands regularly used for recreational purposes;
- open burning for the purpose of crop, range, pasture, wildlife or watershed management in accordance with K.A.R. 28-19-648.
When to Contact JCDHE
Under the state air quality regulations, a WRITTEN OPEN BURNING EXEMPTION IS REQUIRED FROM OUR OFFICE in accordance to K.A.R. 28-19-647(c):
Open burning operations for which an approval is required but which are deemed to be necessary and in the public interest include the following:
- the use of safety flares for disposal of flammable gases;
- fires related to the training of government or industrial personnel in fire-fighting procedures;
- fires set for the removal of dangerous or hazardous liquid materials;
- open burning of trees and brush from nonagricultural land clearing operations; and
- open burning of clean wood waste from construction projects carried out at the construction site.
New regulations in 2011 banned almost all types of open burning in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties during the month of April. Open burning during this month is essentially limited to the prairie burning that occurs in the Flint Hills region. The burning operations listed in 1-5 above are not to be conducted in April and should be scheduled for any other month. If absolutely necessary, an application for burning can be made but approval will come from KDHE in Topeka and not Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. For more information and background regarding the open burning in April, please visit www.ksfire.org.
Local fire departments sometimes burn houses or buildings destined for demolition for more realistic fire training. This may take several days before the entire house is consumed. Removal of carpeting, furniture, and asphalt-containing materials, such as shingles, is required. An asbestos inspection must be made of the premises prior to burning to comply with both state and federal regulations.
In the photo on the right, the fire department is burning a condemned house for firefighter training. They applied for and were granted an open burning exemption prior to the burn. (Photo taken by Michael Boothe)
Open burning of trees and brush from a non-agricultural land clearing operation requires prior approval. If you are removing trees and brush for some type of development, such as an office complex, residential area, or shopping center, prior approval is required in addition to meeting the requirements for the local fire department.