|There is a burn ban currently adopted for the unincorporated county.|
|Outdoor Burning Information|
The Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office works in coordination with the 21 Fire Departments, Sheriff’s Office, Constable’s Offices, Fort Bend County Environmental Health Enforcement Unit and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to educate county citizens about the outdoor burning regulations and to enforce the state laws governing outdoor burning.
The Fire Marshal’s Office does not authorize or issue permits for outdoor burning in the unincorporated areas of the county. During drought conditions the county Fire Marshal can recommend the adoption of a burn ban order in the county and with Commissioner Court approval, officers of the Fire Marshal’s Office can issue citations for any outdoor burning in the county found in violation of a burn ban.
On this page you will find links to information that is used to determine when a burn ban is recommended. The current burn ban status for the county is listed as well as links to view and download a free booklet titled “A Citizen’s Guide to Outdoor Burning”. It is available in both English and Spanish. It consolidates the current outdoor burning regulations for the state and Fort Bend County. Please share the guide with your friends, neighbors, homeowner’s association, neighborhood newsletter, etc. to help educate others about outdoor burning.
Even though the Fire Marshal’s Office is not the lead agency in regards to enforcing outdoor burning regulations we are part of the county’s coordinated response with the agencies listed above. The reduction of air pollution due to outdoor burning is important for all of us. If we respond at the request of one of the agencies listed above to an outdoor burning incident and determine the burning is in violation, we will refer the case to the Fort Bend County Environmental Health for possible criminal charges.
If you have any questions regarding outdoor burning please contact our agency. We are here to help you and guide you through the regulations so that you can make the best decision regarding your outdoor burning situation.
The frequently asked questions (FAQs) section addresses the most common issues in regards to outdoor burning. The answer to most of the questions can also be found in the free booklet titled “A Citizen’s Guide to Outdoor Burning”.
Reminder: Incorporated areas of the county (cities) have ordinances that prohibit all outdoor burning within the city limits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is outdoor burning allowed in Fort Bend County?
A. No. Outdoor burning in unincorporated Fort Bend County in general, is illegal, because it contributes to air pollution.
Q. When did outdoor burning become illegal?
A. The outdoor burning regulations have not changed significantly in many years. What has changed is the population and air quality of the county. Once the county population reached 50,000 tighter restrictions within the outdoor burning regulations became effective. Fort Bend County is also in an ozone non-attainment status requiring further restrictions to outdoor burning to reduce air pollution.
Q. I have burned trash in my burn barrel for many years. Is it illegal?
A. Yes. If you live in an area of the county where waste (trash) collection is available, whether you choose to pay for the service or not outdoor burning of waste in any container is not allowed.
Q. Can I burn trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings and other plant growth?
A. No. If you live in an area of the county where waste (trash) collection is available, whether you choose to pay for the service or not outdoor burning of these items is not allowed. They can be hauled to a landfill or bundled for trash pickup according to the guidelines of your waste collection company.
Q. I just cleared some private land and have some brush piles to get rid of. Can I burn them?
A. No. Since Fort Bend County is an ozone non-attainment county you must use a practical alternative to burning instead; such as Recycling, Composting, Mechanical Chipping or Mulching, Logging, Landfills, Air Curtain Incineration (trench burning).
Q. Is it legal to use a fire pit?
A. Yes. Outdoor burning is allowed for fires used solely for recreational or ceremonial purposes, or in the noncommercial preparation of food, or used exclusively for the purpose of supplying warmth during cold weather. However, you may not use a recreational or ceremonial fire to burn waste, trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings and other plant growth or any other items that are illegal to burn. The fire must not be a nuisance to others and the person responsible for the burn must be present and remains liable for damages, injuries or other consequences that may result from burning, even when it is carried out in compliance with these regulations.
Q. I am clearing land for a commercial development and need to burn. What do I do?
A. You will need to contact TCEQ and obtain a permit to burn using air curtain incineration (trench burning). You may also use the practical alternatives; Recycling, Composting, Mechanical Chipping or Mulching, Logging, Landfills without obtaining a permit.
Q. I tore down an old building or shed or replaced my wooden fence. Can I burn these items?
A. No. The following items are illegal to burn; electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, non-wood construction/ demolition materials, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes and items containing natural or synthetic rubber. They must be disposed at a recycling center or landfill.
Q. I am a farmer and I need to burn my cropland as part of my land management. Can I burn it?
A. Yes. Crop residue burning is allowed as long as there is no burn ban in place. However, when burning you must follow all of the general requirements for allowable outdoor burning listed in the guide (also listed in the answer to the question below).
Q. I live in a part of the county where no waste collection is available even if I paid for it and there is no burn ban in place. Can I burn my waste, trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings and other plant growth that is generated from my property only?
A. Yes, but there are still some additional rules you must follow. These are the general requirements for allowable outdoor burning;
- The party responsible for the burn must be present and remains liable for damages, injuries or other consequences that may result from burning, even when it is carried out in compliance with these regulations.
- Burn only outside the corporate limits of a city or town, unless the incorporated city or town has an ordinance that permits burning.
- Burn only when the wind direction and weather conditions are such that smoke and other pollutants will not present a hazard to any public road, landing strip or navigable water body (lake, river, stream, bay) or have an adverse effect on any off-site structure containing “sensitive receptors” (residence, business, farm building, greenhouse).
- Keep fires downwind, or at least 300 feet away, from any neighboring structure that contains sensitive receptors. This requirement may be waived with the prior written approval of whoever owns or rents the adjacent property and either resides or conducts business there.
- Post someone to flag traffic if the burning causes smoke to blow onto a road or highway at any time.
- Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise, end it the same day, and no later than one hour before sunset.
- Don’t burn electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, non-wood construction/ demolition materials, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes and items containing natural or synthetic rubber.
Q. I live in an area with trash pickup and I have a neighbor who continues to burn when they are not allowed. What can I do?
A. Try being the good neighbor first. Most people are just unaware of the regulations and the restrictions due to population and air quality. Below are several things to try.
- Remind them about the regulations. Refer them to our website and give them a copy of the guide.
- Ask the homeowner’s association to send them a letter with a copy of the guide.
- Post the guide regularly in your neighborhood newsletter or web site.
- Call 911 when you see active burning. The fire department will try the good neighbor approach but can also extinguish the fire and request law enforcement.
- Call Fort Bend County Environmental Health and report it. They are the lead county agency charged with enforcement of the environmental and nuisance laws.
Q. My outdoor burning situation is not listed and is not in the guide booklet. Who can I ask for assistance with the regulations?
A. Either the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office or Fort Bend County Environmental Health can help you with your specific questions regarding outdoor burning.