- Contact Information
- For information on outdoor burning, contact:
Forest fire prevention specialist
Wisconsin burning permitsIt's your responsibility
Burning permits are required by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in many parts of the state to conduct legal and responsible burning in the outdoors. Burning permits are free and easy to obtain. They encourage the public to burn safely and are proven to be effective in protecting lives, property and natural resources from the damages of wildfires.
Get a permit
Simple steps to safe burning
Follow the steps below to conduct legal and responsible burning in the outdoors.
- Get a permit. Obtain a free permit online or call 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876). You can also visit an emergency fire warden or DNR office to get a permit in-person.
- Check before burning. On the day you wish to burn after 11 a.m., check the daily burning restrictions or call the hotline 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) and select the county where you plan to burn. Fire conditions change quickly, so it’s important to check each day you burn to find out if burning is allowed, burning hours and any size limitations.
- Follow the rules. Follow the daily burning restrictions and fire safety recommendations listed on the permit. Make sure to have all the necessary tools to keep your fire contained. Lastly, make sure your fire is completely out before leaving.
Where you burn, makes a difference
Burning permits are required by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in DNR Forest Fire Protection Areas (map below), outside incorporated cities and villages, to conduct burning of legal materials when the ground is not completely snow-covered.
You must comply with state burning laws as well as any local ordinances which may be more restrictive than state law. Contact your local DNR office, fire department, town chairperson or local municipal official if you have any questions on the burning regulations where you plan to burn.
Keep it safe
When you burn is important
Weather conditions and moisture content in vegetation play the biggest role in how wildfires start and spread. Therefore, the time of year and even the time of day influences how burning is regulated. Spring is Wisconsin's peak fire season and when most fire restrictions are in effect. This occurs shortly after the snow-cover disappears and prior to vegetation greening.
In addition, burning is typically restricted to late afternoon or evening hours to reduce the chances of a fire escaping. In the evening, winds are calmer, humidity rises and temperatures are cooler. Always keep an eye on the changing weather conditions and stay within the specified burn times and size limitations as indicated by the daily restrictions.
Burn legal materials
What you burn, matters
Always consider alternatives to burning such as recycling, chipping or composting. If you choose to burn, only small amounts of leaves, brush, needles, grass, clean wood and unrecyclable paper or cardboard can be burned with a DNR burning permit. For a complete list of legal materials, refer to the restrictions listed on the permit.
Burning permits are issued to individuals for burning piled 'debris' on the ground or in barrels. This includes prescribed or broadcast burns for land management purposes. Maximum acreages and pile sizes are limited by geographic area and indicated within the daily burning restrictions.
If you are burning in a campfire ring or fire pit with the intent to eliminate debris, a DNR burning permit is required. However, small fires for warming or cooking purposes do not require a DNR burning permit and are allowed anytime of the day, except during Emergency Burning Restrictions.
Upon DNR inspection, special permits may be issued for burning outside the restricted burn times, land clearing and piles or broadcast burns exceeding the maximum size limit. Contact your local DNR Ranger Station for more information.
Know the risks
Who burns, means compliance
Permit holders must comply with all the conditions associated with the burning permit and take all reasonable precautions to prevent escape of the fire. Burning permits are issued annually to an individual person, not the burn location, and are non-transferable. They are intended for those wishing to burn small amounts of yard debris or clean wood from a single family household on the property where it was generated.
Businesses or commercial entities burning waste materials, including waste generated off-site by individuals, is not valid under this annual permit but may be eligible for a solid waste wood burning facility license. Contact the DNR solid waste specialist for your area prior to any burning.
Always know the risks
The person responsible for lighting the fire is required to have a valid burning permit with them at all times while burning and must be available to present to law enforcement or firefighters if requested. If you fail to obtain a burning permit, do not comply with the daily fire restrictions or allow your fire to escape, you may be cited by law enforcement.
Remember, lighting any fire in the outdoors is risky. If you choose to burn and your fire escapes and starts a wildfire, you are liable for all suppression costs and potentially any damages associated with that fire. At any point if you are uncomfortable with your burn, do not hesitate to dial 911 immediately.