Prescribed burning
Both the ODNR and Ohio EPA have authority over prescribed burning — intentional burns for horticultural, silvicultural, range or wildlife management practices.  Prescribed burning requires prior written permission from Ohio EPA and, if taking place during March, April, May, October or November, the burn must be conducted by a Certified Prescribed Fire Manager with permission by the Chief of ODNR’s Division of Forestry.

Prior notice
For burns that require advance notice to the Ohio EPA, farmers may use the notification form on the Ohio EPA website. The form seeks information about what will be burned and when and where the burn will take place.

Legal duties
The law requires any person who starts a fire near trees, woodland or brush land to take steps to prevent the fire from escaping. All leaves, grass, wood and inflammable material surrounding the place must be removed to a safe distance and all other reasonable precautions must be taken to keep the fire under control. The law also states that a person should extinguish or safely cover an open fire before leaving the area.

Local laws
Be mindful of any local laws in regards to open burning. Check with the local fire department to know if any local regulations apply to the situation.

Violations
Ohio EPA can issue fines up to $1,000 per day per offense of open burning laws. The EPA states that it takes enforcement action against repeat offenders or violations that cause significant harmful emissions. Otherwise, EPA enforcement officers prefer to issue warnings to first-time offenders and educate on how to conduct open burns that minimize pollution impacts.

Conducting open burns that violate Ohio’s wildfire prevention laws can result in third-degree misdemeanor charges, which carry penalties of up to $500 and 60 days of jail time per violation.

If an open burn causes harm to people or property, civil liability may arise.

An open burn that reduces roadway visibility and results in an auto accident, escapes the property and harms neighbors or neighboring property or significantly interferes with other owners’ property use could result in a negligence or nuisance lawsuit.

Last Week: What can you burn on the farm?

Source: Ohio open burning law, Peggy Kirk Hall, OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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