Pile Burning in the City of Santa Rosa

Vegetative Debris Pile Burning Ordinance for Wildfire Mitigation 

On March 16, 2021, City Council approved a new Ordinance allowing property owners to burn vegetative debris piles as a limited method to reduce the threat of wildfires. This type of pile burning, under appropriate weather conditions, can rapidly eliminate vegetative debris after it is cut and piled. A permit must be obtained through the Fire department prior to proceeding with any pile-burning work.  

Who is eligible to obtain a Pile-Burning Permit?  

The ordinance applies to a narrow number of properties within the City limits. For a property owner to be eligible to apply for a permit, their parcel must meet the following criteria:  

Private landowners on smaller parcels both in and outside of the Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area would be allowed to apply for a permit; however, these would only be permitted on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Santa Rosa Fire Department. 

What does the Pile-Burning Permit allow?

The permit allows the property owner to conduct pile burning to reduce wildfire fuel hazards. The following conditions must be met: 

  • Burning shall not be conducted within fifty (50) feet of any dwelling or other combustible material, including out-buildings, storage sheds and wooden fences. 
  • A water supply and long-handled shovel shall be readily available. 
  • Burning shall be permitted between to the hours and days authorized by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (generally sunrise to sunset). 
  • The burn pile must always be attended. 
  • The area 10 feet around and above the burn piles must be clear of vegetation. 
  • Only clean vegetation (e.g., branches, trunks, stumps) from the property of the burn is allowed.

How do I obtain a permit?

To apply for a Pile Burning permit, please contact the Fire Department at (707) 543-3500 or by emailing SRFD@srcity.org.  

What other safety steps are required for the day of burning?  

Prior to burning, a site inspection will be conducted by the Fire Department for permit issuance. With the completed permits in-hand, there are two phone calls that must be made: 

Confirm it is a burn day by calling the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) at (800) 792-0787. NOTE: just because the recording says it is a burn day, does not mean pile burning is allowed in the City of Santa Rosa. BAAQMD may not readily be aware if the City of Santa Rosa has suspended burning due to fire danger and/or the declaration of local Fire Season. 

Notify REDCOM Fire Dispatch at (707) 565-1700 using the burn line. 

Why is the Fire Department permitting this method of fire fuel mitigation? 

Historically the Santa Rosa Fire Department (SRFD) has not authorized this type of burning within the City. However, establishing permitting protocols for this fuel mitigation option was one of the many recommendations in Santa Rosa's Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) adopted in late 2020. After researching the feasibility of pile burning as a method to eliminate hazardous vegetation (fuel) and gathering community input, staff drafted the Fuels Mitigation Pile Burning Ordinance which City Council approved in March 2021.  

What burning activities are ALWAYS prohibited in Santa Rosa city limits?  

It is unlawful to burn or cause to be burned within the city any solid waste, recyclable materials, household hazardous wastes or other hazardous wastes, garbage, debris, or other wastes. This includes the burning of any prohibited material, such as household trash, in a residential fireplace or backyard burn barrel. 

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) also regulates burning activities within the City of Santa Rosa. A complete listing of the BAAQMD Regulations for open burning and other similar activities are available on the BAAQMD Website