Burning Permits

The following information is to help clarify some of the procedures and restrictions pertaining to the Open Burning Permit (PDF).

Application Process

  • This is only an application for an open burning permit (PDF) and must be submitted 7 days prior to the date of burn.
  • Once you have returned the completed form to 1 of our 5 fire stations, a fire department representative will visit the proposed burn site.
  • The application is then forwarded to the St. Joseph County Health Department for their approval.
  • The entire process from application to approval will take at least five (5) working days, not including mail delivery.


  • Once the application has been approved and signed by the St. Joseph County Health Department, the Health Department will mail you the permit.
  • Until you receive the permit, burning is not allowed.
  • Once approved, the permit is good for the 2-week period which you listed on the application.


  • All burning must take place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • If a health-related complaint is received regarding your burning, the fire must be extinguished even though a permit has been issued.
  • All burn piles must not be larger than (3) three feet high and (5) five feet in diameter and be at least 25 feet away from other combustibles such as bushes, wood piles, or buildings. 
  • The burning site must be attended to at all times.
  • No stumps, grass clippings, leaves, finished lumber, or other construction materials are to be burned with this permit.
  • The open burning permits were designed for natural vegetation from storm clean-up, not clearing a lot for construction.

More Information

If you have any questions not answered above, please contact Clay Fire’s Community Risk Reduction Division at (574) 272-2144 or the St. Joseph County Health Department at (574) 235-9721 (Environmental Division). More information can be found on the St. Joseph County website under Open Burn Procedures.