Open Air Burning Permit Information

Permits are valid from January 15 at 10:00 A.M through May 1st at 4:00 P.M. each year. Permits will not be issued until January 15. 

  • You must obtain a new burning permit every year. Please apply for an annual permit HERE. Please note that this link will be active beginning on January 15th each year. We cannot process burning permits before January 15th.
  • Permits are only issued to residential properties. Commercial properties are NOT ALLOWED to do open air burning.
  • You must apply HERE for a "Daily Open Air Burning Activation" each day you wish to burn between the hours of 9:00 AM and NOON to receive authorization to burn. If you are not able to apply for a Daily Open Air Burning Permit, burning is not allowed for that day.
  • Daily Open Air Burning Permits are not actvated until after 9:00 AM on days when burning is allowed. If you don't have access to a computer, you may contact the Southborough Fire Department at 508-485-3235 to obtain a verbal approval. Make sure to have your annual permit number as a reference when calling the fire department.

Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the spring. If winds kick up or other atmospheric conditions change suddenly at any time during the day, burning permit authorizations may be suspended and ongoing fires must be extinguished immediately.

The Town of Southborough Fire Department does not have the authority to determine if open air burning is allowed day by day. Authorized (or Non-Authorized) burning is determined daily by two state agencies:

  1. The Department of Conservation & Recreations' (DCR) Bureau of Forest Fire Control and
  2. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Each have the sole power to deny burning authorization.

DCR determines the likelihood of out of control fires occurring while DEP determines the likelihood of environmental/public impacts from open air smoke.

These Departments post their approval or denial for burning each day by 9:00 A.M. and reserve the right to amend their decisions at any time during the day.


  • Open air burning is permitted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only between January 15th (9:00 A.M.) and May 1st (4:00 P.M.)
  • Between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., 7-Days a week. All fires MUST be extinguished by 4:00 P.M.
  • Authorization to burn WILL NOT be granted to anyone requesting at/after 12:01 P.M.
  • Open air burning may be denied at any time for a verity of public safety reasons.


  • Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land clearing operations.
  • Materials normally associated with the pursuit of agriculture such as fruit tree pruning, dead raspberry stalks, blueberry patches for pruning purposes, and infected bee hives for disease control.
  • Trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
  • Fungus infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available.


  • Brush, trees, cane and driftwood from commercial and / or industrial land clearing operations.
  • Grass, hay, leaves and stumps, and tires.
  • Construction material and debris.


  • A minimum of 75 feet from any building / structure.
  • On the land closest to the source of the material.


  • An adult must attend to the fire at all times until completely extinguished.
  • The person attending the fire must be able to be contacted by the Fire Department at all times (i.e. cell phone).
  • A water supply, capable of extinguishing the fire, must be readily available.
  • Smoke, soot and ash from your fire cannot create a nuisance to others or to the environment.
  • You are responsible for your fire. Failure to adhere to these regulations will result in the suspension of your burning permit, and/or fines.


  • An adult should always be present during open burning and children and pets should be kept a safe distance away.
  • Use paper and kindling to start the fire and add progressively larger pieces of wood. Parts of a leftover Christmas tree may also be used.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire.
  • Burn one small pile at a time and slowly add to it. This will help keep the fire from getting out of control.
  • Select a location away from any utility lines.
  • While the fire is burning, an adult must attend the fire until it is completely extinguished.
  • Have fire extinguishment materials on hand including a water supply, shovels and rakes.
  • The water supply could be a pressurized water fire extinguisher, a pump can or garden hose, and be sure to test it out before igniting the fire. You do not want to find out that the water is still shut off at the house faucet or that the hose is cracked when you need it most.
  • Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up or weather changes. Use common sense and don’t wait for the fire department to contact you that it has become unsafe to burn. Sudden wind change is how most open burning gets out of control.
  • If for some reason, the fire should get out of control, Dial 9-1-1. From a cell phone, you may also dial 508-485-3232. This number will connect you directly with the Southborough Emergency Dispatch center rather than routing your call through the Massachusetts State Police.
  • Use the utmost caution to prevent injury to yourself or family members or any damage by fire to your home.
  • People conducting illegal burning, or who allow a fire to get out of control, may be held liable for costs of extinguishing the fire, fined and even imprisoned (MGL C48 S13).