Open burning is regulated in an effort to prevent the release of contaminants in the air.  Burning typically relases very fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and potentially hazardous air pollutants.  The pollutants can promote an increase risk of cancer and lung disease especially in children and the elderly.  Open burning operations also contribute to haze and visibility problems.

On May 6, 2024 Ottawa County Commissioners repealed Resolution 16-24 adopted on October 24, 2016 and adopted Resolution 24-08 pertaining to open burning within the boundaries of Ottawa County.

Resolution 24-08 requires individuals to register with Ottawa County Emergency Management and obtain a registration number which must be renewed every 5 years.  You must Register or Re-Register starting July 1, 2024 as your old Registration number will no longer be valid.  Burn registration numbers are non-transferable, however the holder of the burn registration number may designate in writing a person who is 18 years or older to oversee and conduct the burn.  

Ottawa County Emergency Management would like to take this time to remind everyone that Ottawa County has a two-step approach for controlled burning.  The first step is that you register with Ottawa County Emergency Management and the second is that you call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 785-392-2157 prior to starting any controlled burn. 

Other criteria that Ottawa County requires:

  • The holder of the Burn Registration or their designee shall remain in continuous attendance of the burning operation and maintain the ability to contral the fire and report its status, if necessary.
  • Non-Agricultural Open Burning shall be prohibited if wind speeds are 15 mph or above and NO Argicultural Open burning if wind spees are 20 mph or over.
  • Absolutely NO burning shall be initiated 1 hour before sunset until 1 hour after sunrise unless special permission has been obtained from the Fire Chief having jurisdiction. 
  • The Fire Chief of the jurisdiction for where the fire will be located shall have and retain the authority to instruct Ottawa County Dispatch not to allow any burning or place his jurisdiction under a burn ban.
  • Absolutely NO burning shall take place within 150 feet of any structure, oil tank or vehicle(s) not owned or operated by the Registrant.
  • A person shall not conduct a burn that creates traffic or other safety hazards.

Ottawa County Emergency Management would also like to pass along some additional safety tips and conditions for open burning.   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.  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.  Select a burn location away from any utility lines.  An adult must attend the fire until it is completely extinguished. 

Have fire extinguishing materials on hand including a water supply, shovels and rakes.  The water supply can be a pressurized water fire extinguisher, a pump can or garden hose.  Test the water source before igniting the fire.  You do not want to find the water is off or that the hose is cracked when you need it. 

Remember that alternate methods of disposal of natural materials are available such as using them again in different forms.  Tree limbs, brush and other forestry debris can be chipped or composted into landscaping materials. 

Remember to be safe, take precautions and use common sense.  Be prepared to extinguish the fire if winds pick up or the weather changes.  If a fire gets out of control, call 911 for the fire department immediately.  Use the utmost caution to prevent injury to yourself and others or any fire damage to your home or property.

Call Ottawa County Sheriff's Office prior to starting and after completing any controlled burns with your burn registration number!