Open Burning & Recreational Fires

Recreational fires are allowed within the City of Suffolk; however, there is a strict set of regulations that must be followed. City code section 38-106, has separate stipulations that are not found in the Fire Code which must also be followed.

Residential / Commercial Open Burning


Open Burning: The burning of materials for purposes other than recreation.
  • The fire official may order the extinguishment of open burning which creates an objectionable situation.
  • Open burning shall be constantly attended and on-site fire-extinguishing equipment available until the fire is out.
  • A permit shall be obtained from the Fire Marshal’s Office and on-hand at the location of the open burn. Guidelines are indicated on the permit. A record of permits is maintained at the Dispatch Center.
  • Residential burning: Pile size shall not exceed 5 feet by 5 feet, unless approved, and shall contain yard debris only (limbs, leaves, etc). Commercial: per conditions of permit.

Things to Remember


  • Failure to comply with a City ordinance governing open burning is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and/or one year in jail.
  • Take advantage of Public Works bulk pickup service by calling 757-514-7630, or carry the debris to a local landfill for disposal.
  • The Virginia Department of Forestry Burn Law is in effect from February 15 through April 30. During this time there is no burning of any type permitted before 4 p.m.

Open Air Burning


By City ordinance and VA DEQ regulation, no open air burning, or the use of special incineration devices, is allowed from May 1st through September 30th

Recreational Fires


Recreational Fire: An outdoor fire, burning materials other than rubbish, for pleasure, religious/ceremonial purposes, cooking, or warmth.
  • No permit is required, except for bonfires (permit required).
  • A recreational fire shall not exceed 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height, and shall be greater than 25 feet away from any structures.
  • Recreational fires shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.

Virginia Department of Forestry Burn Law


The Virginia Department of Forestry Burn Law, as described on this page, applies to recreational fires.