New Requirements for Outdoor Residential Burning

Residents can reduce the likelihood of negative impacts

New Requirements for Outdoor Residential Burning

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In March, Fort Collins City Council adopted new nuisance code language to address health and nuisance impacts of wood smoke.

Smoke and odor generated from wood burning can have unintended negative impacts on some of the most sensitive populations, such as the young, the elderly and people with heart or lung conditions.

“While many of us enjoy a backyard fire, the smoke and odor can travel beyond our property lines,” said Senior Air Quality Coordinator Jason Komes, “Ever notice when sitting around a fire with friends, everyone moves away from the smoky side? Now, imagine if you couldn’t move or it was too expensive to do so. The intent of the new regulations is to provide some leverage for those who need it most. While we encourage neighbor to neighbor communication and resolution, these new rules are in place to address concerns when compromise can’t be met.”

The new code states that outdoor wood burning fires must be at least 15 feet away from adjacent property lines, and all wood burning fires must be extinguished by 10:00 p.m. These new requirements are in addition to existing fire safety rules, which define acceptable fire pit design, location, and fuel type.

Residents can reduce the likelihood of negative impacts from smoke by:

  • Placing fire pits at least 15 feet from combustible structures and 15 feet away from property lines
  • Burning only clean, dry seasoned wood
  • Keeping fuel piles under 3 feet in diameter and less than 2 feet in height
  • Having enough airflow to allow for efficient burning
  • Fully extinguishing fires with water by 10:00 p.m.

For nuisance related concerns (excessive smoke, burning past curfew or distance from the property line), residents may submit a complaint through Access Fort Collins or call the Nuisance Hotline at 970-416-2200. Residents who have health and safety concerns about an active fire can contact the Fort Collins non-emergency line at 970-221-6540.  For emergencies, always call 9-1-1.

Learn more information about this new program at