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Open Air Burning

Cornwall residents can apply to the Cornwall Fire Department for a permit to conduct small open-air fires in an approved burning appliance on their property, subject to the conditions set out in the City's Open Air Burning By-law.

Residents are encouraged to carefully review the By-law before filling out the Open Air Burn Permit Application Form. The completed application form must be submitted to Protective Services at the Cornwall Fire Department's Headquarter Station (10 Fourth Street West, behind City Hall) during regular business hours.

A Fire Prevention Officer will conduct an inspection of the open air burning appliance installation to ensure compliance with the Open Air Burning By-law. The application will be processed once the inspection is complete and the Fire Prevention Officer has determined the appliance is in compliance. If the applicant is present at the time of the inspection, he or she will be advised in person whether the installation has been approved. Otherwise, the applicant will be contacted by phone following the inspection.

The cost of an Open Air Burn Permit is $100, payable at the time of issue. Payment may be made by either cash or cheque (made payable to the Cornwall Fire Department). The permits are valid for 3 years from the date of issue.

Regulations & Forms



Changes to the Open Air Burning By-law

The Open Air Burning By-law has been changed and approved by City Council on March 24, 2014 (refer to link above). Please note the following changes:

  • The size of the fire is now defined and should not be greater than 45 centimeters (18 inches) by 45 centimeters (18 inches).
  • The By-law now permits responding personnel to fine for infractions. The amount of fine is $195.00 for violating the By-law.
  • Persons in contravention of the By-law may be subject to full costs recovery measures including the cost of fire department vehicles, equipment and staff ($410.00/hour). The cost recovery would apply for repeated offenders (e.g. responding to same address multiple times in contravention of the By-law). The permit holder or occupant will be invoiced. 
  • Renewals: Should the approved appliance remain in the same location as indicated on the application, the application will automatically be approved. No follow up inspection is required by a Fire Prevention Officer.
  • Open air burning without a permit and in contravention to this By-law is also a violation of the Ontario Fire Code. Persons violating the Ontario Fire Code may be prosecuted under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and on conviction be subject to the fines and penalties provided for in that Act. As per the Act, the fine is not more than $50,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.
  • A permit issued under this By-law may be revoked by the Chief Fire Official or his designate.
  • Please note, current burn permits are valid until the expiry date (no additional cost).


Environmental Considerations

At certain times of the year and as conditions warrant, the Chief Fire Official may issue a complete ban on open air burning. When a ban is issued, all open air burning is prohibited.

Also, no open air burning will be permitted when a smog alert has been issued for the forecast region of Stormont County, which includes the City of Cornwall. 


Only clean, cured wood is to be used for burning. Green wood, painted wood, construction material, garbage, cardboard or recyclable materials are examples of items that should not be burned.

Please note that fires should be small and they should be supervised at all times by an adult. The fire must be extinguished when there is no supervision. Fire extinguishment equipment, such as a garden hose, should be readily available and accessible.

Fires should be kept on a non-combustible surface a minimum of 20 feet (6 metres) from structures and/or property lines. The minimum distance can be at the discretion of the Chief Fire Official or his designate.

Open air burning is permitted from April 1 to October 31, from sunset to midnight.

Keep it Safe!

Please keep the following points in mind for open air burning:

  • Never use flammable liquids such as gasoline to start your fire
  • Remove all vegetation and other material that could spread the fire
  • Maintain close supervision of children and pets
  • Be familiar with equipment to extinguish the fire, such as rakes, shovels or garden hose
  • Pay attention to wind conditions and potential spark hazards

Be a Good Neighbour

Obtaining authorization to have an open air burn does not relieve an owner from their obligation to comply with the Environmental Protection Act of Ontario. While burning, it is your obligation to ensure that smoke does not interfere with the ability of your neighbours to enjoy their properties or conduct their business without disruption. Watch where your smoke travels and do not burn when there are foggy conditions or wind that will carry your smoke in a direction that will disrupt adjacent roadways or properties.

Complaints and Enforcement

Persons violating the Open Air Burning By-Law could face a $195 fine. Repeat offenders may be subject to full cost recovery measures including the cost of fire department vehicles, equipment and staff ($410.00/hour). 

Persons violating the Ontario Fire Code may be prosecuted under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

A burn permit can be revoked by the Fire Chief or his designate.


Additional Information

If you have any questions about open air burning, please call the Fire Department at (613) 930-2787 ext. 2311.