Burn Season

How to Obtain a Burn Permit

To purchase a permit in person, the office will be open from Monday through Friday from 8 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm. The Fire Department office is located at:
181 Main Street
Oxford, MA 01540

Permits are $10.

Obtain Online

You may also apply for a burn permit online via UniPay. (Please note that there will be a one-business-day delay on the approval of your permit if you purchase it online.)

How to Conduct a Safe Open Burn

Fires must be a manageable size, subject to Fire Department interpretation.

We want everyone who is going to conduct open burning to have, in hand, a numbered burning permit with a copy of the burning regulations. If you need to conduct open burning during the open burning season, then all you need to do is call the Oxford Fire at 508-987-6012, before noon on the day you wish to burn and provide your previously obtained permit number. You will then be notified as to whether or not the State will allow open burning that day. If allowed, you will be able to utilize the permit. A permit is good for only three burns per season. You may not use last year's permit. The burn needs to be started by noon.

The Fire Department is the sole authority in granting these permits. As per the following burning regulations, burning hours are between 10 am and 4 pm. Anyone wishing to request a permit should purchase the permit prior to the day that he/she intends to burn.

View the Commonwealth's How to Conduct a Safe Open Burn document (PDF) for further information.

Requirements & Responsibilities in Massachusetts

Open burning (the burning of any material out-of-doors) releases large amounts of carbon monoxide and other gaseous and solid substances directly into the atmosphere. Open burning causes air pollution and aggravates respiratory problems. Under poor atmospheric conditions, open burning creates a smoke and odor nuisance, as well as a health threat to area residents, especially in densely populated areas. For these reasons, open burning is restricted in Massachusetts.

You must obtain a permit for open burning from your local fire department or fire warden.

Burning (with a permit) of the following materials is allowed from January 15 through May 1:

Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land-clearing operations 

Prohibited & Acceptable Burn Materials

You cannot burn leaves, pine needles, Christmas trees, building debris, pallets, grass, hay, stumps, tires, or logs larger than 4 inches in diameter.

You can burn branches, twigs, small tree sections

Required Conditions

The following conditions must be met:

  • Burning must be at least 75 feet from all dwellings  
  • Burning must be carried out between 10 am and 4 pm, and burning must take place on land closest to the source of the material being burned.
  • Materials normally associated with the pursuit of agriculture, such as fruit tree pruning, dead raspberry stalks, blueberry patches for pruning purposes, infected beehives for disease control, trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing, and fungus-infected Elmwood if no other means of disposal is available. The disease-free brush is not an acceptable starting aid.

Suggested Guidelines for Conducting Open Burning

All open burning must be conducted during periods of good atmospheric ventilation "without causing a nuisance", as determined by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Starting the Fire

Before placing materials to be burned in an area, remove all grass. Before burning brush, dry it by cutting in advance or covering it. Start the fire using either small amounts of kindling, or a pressurized burner which uses diesel fuel. No gasoline is allowed to be used.

While Burning

Someone must attend to the fire until completely extinguished. Have available a water supply such as a pressurized water pump can or hose, and shovels or rakes for controlling the fire.

Extinguishing the Fire

Burn the fire down to coals with snow, water, sand, or soil.

Community Restrictions

No open burning permits may be issued for the burning of brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris in the following communities:

  • Arlington
  • Belmont
  • Boston
  • Brookline
  • Cambridge
  • Chelsea
  • Chicopee
  • Everett
  • Fall River
  • Holyoke
  • Lawrence
  • Lowell
  • Malden
  • Medford
  • New Bedford
  • Newton
  • Somerville
  • Springfield
  • Waltham
  • Watertown
  • West Springfield
  • Worcester

Permits are also required for the following activities:

  • Training or research in fire protection or prevention with specific approval by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • Burning of Christmas trees from December 26 to January 7 of each year.
  • One ceremonial bonfire each year to observe a municipal, state, or national event, under the supervision of the Fire Department.
  • Bonfires between July 2 and July 6, under the supervision of the Fire Department.

Statewide Prohibited Burning

Burning of the following is prohibited statewide:

  • Brush, trees, cane, and driftwood from commercial and/or institutional land-clearing operations
  • Grass, hay, leaves, stumps, and tires
  • Burning at landfills or refuse disposal facilities other than approved sites - stacking, placing, or storing combustible material such that the Department may presume that it will be burned

Remember - open-air burning causes air pollution.