December 16, 2017
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Outdoor Burning Regulations

Updated September 18, 2017 - Recreational fires that are less than three feet in diameter, three feet high, and at least 25 feet from buildings and combustibles are allowed at this time. Fires in outdoor fireplaces and campfires in approved locations in campgrounds. Please see below for the current outdoor burning regulations.

It is important to the Bainbridge Island Fire Department and our community that everyone understands the laws regulating burning.  

In January of 2001, Bainbridge Island amended City Ordinances to comply with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Air Act was imposed to reduce contaminates in the air that are produced from burning.  These contaminates can cause severe respiratory distress for people with heart or lung problems.  The burn ban, under Washington State Law, makes all outdoor burning on Bainbridge Island illegal, with minor exceptions.  These exceptions include: recreational/cooking fires, permitted ceremonial fires and permitted agricultural fires.

Recreational Fire 

A recreational fire can easily be described as a fire for the purpose of cooking or when camping. The fuel for this type of fire must be either standard cut, untreated firewood or charcoal briquettes. The size of a recreational fire is limited to no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height. Under no circumstances can this type of fire be used to dispose of residential yard vegetation, waste or garbage. In addition, the fire must be located at least 25 feet from any structure and any burnable materials that could cause the fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure. 

Ceremonial Fire

A ceremonial fire is a special purpose bonfire or cooking fire larger than "recreational fire". This type of fire requires a permit issued by the fire department. Ceremonial fires cannot be used to burn yard vegetation, waste or garbage, and must be located at least 50 feet from any structure.

Agricultural Fire

Under certain conditions, commercial farms are allowed to burn vegetation for the purpose of disease control or crop protection.  This type of fire is permitted and regulated by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.  Permits must also be approved by the Fire Department and fires are subject to safety inspections.

Another type of burn ban is implemented by the fire departments throughout Kitsap County. This is generally done for safety reasons caused by dry weather conditions.  During these bans, all burning on Bainbridge Island, including recreational fires, ceremonial fires and agricultural fires, is prohibited.
In addition to improving air quality on Bainbridge Island, the burn ban helps to reduce the possibility of accidental wildfires. Open burning can be a prime cause of wildfires; in fact, people cause ninety-five percent of all wildfires.  

Many of our citizens live in the heavily forested areas of Bainbridge Island, areas the Department defines as the "Wild land/Urban Interface".  Dry summer weather and lack of rainfall brings danger from wildfire to those homes that are nestled in close proximity to the trees and brush or on hillsides.  It is important to evaluate the risk of losing your home to wildfire before it strikes, and take appropriate steps to protect your home and family.
One of the most effective ways to protect your property is to create a "defensible space" around your home.  A defensible space is defined as a vegetation buffer, such as a green, mowed lawn, which reduces the chance of a wildfire reaching your home.  In addition, this space provides a safe work area for firefighters in the event that your home is threatened by wildfire.  An adequate defensible space requires the removal of trees and brush for at least thirty feet on all sides of your home.  

Some additional steps that can prevent or minimize your exposure to wildfire are:
  • Post your address numbers so the Fire Department can easily locate your property.
  • If you see branches on or near power lines, call Puget Sound Energy to have them removed.
  • Have two alternate escape routes from your property, one by car and one by foot.
  • Provide access for fire apparatus by trimming back vegetation alongside your driveway.
  • Clear an area of ten feet around propane tanks and barbeques.  
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.  Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Trim low hanging branches on trees to prevent a ground fire from spreading upward.
  • Clean debris from your roof and gutters.
  • Pre-connect garden hoses with nozzles to all exterior water outlets.
  • Install fire resistant roofing.  Burning embers that fall from above are a leading cause of structure fires that start as a result of a wildfire.
  • Provide fire apparatus with access to any water supplies that might be available on your property or nearby, such as fire hydrants, swimming pools, creeks, lakes and ponds.
  • Stack firewood a minimum of fifty feet from your home.

For further information and publications on burn ban regulations and wildfire prevention, call the Bainbridge Island Fire Department at (206) 842-7686.