Open-Air Burning

Open-Air Burning

The Town of Lincoln prohibits open-air burning unless you obtain a burn permit, as per the Town's Open-Air Fire By-law. An "open-air fire" is defined as a fire in any open place, yard, field or area which is not contained or enclosed by a building or structure, and includes agricultural fires, chimineas, bonfires, and campfires.

Burn Permits:

  • Permits are available online - apply from the safety and convenience of your own home
  • Online permits are available at a discounted rate of $25 and are processed through the online portal
  • In-person permits are available for $45
  • There is no fee for farm burn permits on lands zoned for agricultural purposes used for bona fide farming operations
  • Burn permits are valid for the calendar year, and expire on December 31 of each year

Important Considerations:

  • Recreational fires require a minimum clearance of 5 metres (approximately 16 feet) in all directions between the fire and any building, structure, fence, property line, roadway, overhead wire, or combustible material
  • Many residential properties are not large enough to meet the clearance requirements for a lawful open air fire
  • Any person who sets or maintains an open air fire is responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient clearances around the fire
  • Despite having a valid permit, it is unlawful to set or maintain an open air fire that causes smoke, odour, ashes, or embers to invade a neighbouring property thereby creating a nuisance
  • Residents that fail to comply with the regulations will result in fines and/or fees of $904 per hour for each fire truck that responds to extinguish an unsafe or unlawful fire

Reporting a Concern:

  • Open air burning complaints should be reported while the offence is occurring.
  • Serious threat and/or property damage - Call 9-1-1. Remember, this should only be used if it is an emergency situation as the fire department will be dispatched to respond to an emergency.
  • Less serious situations (e.g. smoke is creating a nuisance) - call 905-684-4311, the fire dispatch non-emergency number. A member of the fire department will be dispatched to investigate the complaint.
  • Complaints can be filed by completing the Town of Lincoln Online Complaint Form or by leaving a voicemail at 905-563-2799 ext. 289

By-law Update

Effective 2018, a number of changes have occurred to the By-law, following significant community consultation. Therefore, the following items are new or updated to ensure the by-law supports a safe, healthy community


  • The permit classifications are revised to:
    • Farm Fire Permit
    • Rural Fire Permit 
    • Urban Fire Permit
    • Campground Fire Permit
    • Specific Event Fire Permit
  • The former “Recreational” and “Non-Recreational” permits were replaced with “Urban” and “Rural” to better address the specific issues associated with each respective area.
  • A new “Specific Event Fire Permit” was introduced to facilitate campfires by various community groups for a specific occasion or series of occasions.

Sensitive Receptor Registry

  • Sensitive Receptor Registry is an approach whereby the fire department maintains a confidential database of locations where exposure to smoke may pose a particular risk to the health of an individual or group
  • Residents wishing to be placed on the registry would submit a letter from their physician or a notarized statement attesting to the medical need to have their address placed on the Sensitive Receptor Registry
  • Burn Permits would not be issued, nor open air fires allowed, within 75 metres of a location listed on the Sensitive Receptor Registry
  • The registry process is in development. If you have questions about the registry, contact the Fire Department.

Flaming Devices

  • A new section was added to the By-law to allow the outdoor use of small flaming devices, such as tiki torches and candles
  • The outdoor use of these devices was technically unlawful under the previous By-law but should be included as an allowable device

Flying Lanterns

  • The By-law prohibits the use of these Balloon-like “flying lanterns” devices
  • The devices are a fire safety concern because these open flame devices have an uncontrollable and unpredictable flight path when released
  • They can land on trees, building rooftops, and other combustible properties while still ignited thereby creating a public hazard


  • The By-law now authorizes the Town’s By-law enforcement officers, in addition to Fire prevention staff, to enforce the open air fire by-law, and issue an Order to Extinguish a fire

False or Frivolous Complaints

  • The By-law is in place to ensure that open air fires are safe
  • At times, neighbours are using this matter to solve neighbour disputes rather than a safety concern or true violation of the By-law
  • A monetary penalty and a cost recovery mechanism for repeated responses is now in place for false or frivolous open air burning complaints


  • An appeal mechanism is now in place to allow individuals who have been assessed fees or charges under the open air fire by-law, to appeal those fees or charges


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