VENTURA COUNTY AIR POLLUTION CONTROL DISTRICT

RULE 56 - OPEN FIRES
(Adopted 10/22/68, Revised 9/14/71, 1/25/73, 6/14/77, 1/9/79, 11/20/79, 5/24/88, 3/29/94)

A. Applicability

  1. Except as provided in the following sections, the provisions of this rule shall apply to the burning of combustible materials in open outdoor fires.

  2. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to open outdoor fires used only for the heating or cooking of food for human consumption or for recreational purposes when such fires are confined to a fireplace or barbecue pit.

  3. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to open outdoor fires, at altitudes above 3,000 feet mean sea level, used for the disposal of agricultural wastes in the pursuit of agricultural operations.

B. Requirements

  1. Except as provided in the following sections, a person shall not burn or allow the burning of combustible materials in an open outdoor fire.

  2. On days declared to be "burn days," a person may use an open outdoor fire for any of the following purposes if a written permit has been obtained from the fire protection agency having jurisdiction in the area:

    a. The disposal of agricultural wastes in the pursuit of agricultural operations;

    b. Range improvement burning;

    c. Wildland vegetation management burning;

    d. Levee, reservoir or ditch maintenance; or

    e. The disposal of Russian thistle (Salsola kali or tumbleweed).

  3. A person conducting open burning pursuant to Section B.2 shall comply with all applicable conditions in Section C and with all other conditions prescribed or imposed by the fire protection ordinances of the fire protection agency issuing the permit.

  4. A person conducting open burning pursuant to Section B.2 shall have the written permit issued by the fire protection agency at the location of the fire for the duration of the fire.

  5. For range improvement burning conducted primarily for improvement of land for wildlife and game habitat, the applicant shall file with the Air Pollution Control District a statement from the Department of Fish and Game certifying that burning is desirable and proper.

  6. A person may use an open outdoor fire for any of the following purposes, if the fire is authorized by a public officer pursuant to the officer's authority under other provisions of law:

    a. Disease or pest prevention, where there is an immediate need for and no reasonable alternative to burning;

    b. The instruction of public employees in the methods of fighting fires;

    c. The instruction of employees in the methods of fighting fire when such fire is set on industrial, institutional or commercial property;

    d. The prevention of a public health or fire hazard which cannot be abated by any other reasonable means;

    e. The abatement of a fire hazard; or

    f. The setting of backfires necessary to save life, or valuable property.

  7. A person conducting open burning pursuant to Sections B.6.a-e shall inform, in writing, the Air Pollution Control District at least two working days prior to the scheduled burning and, upon request, shall provide written justification for the fire from the public officer authorizing the fire. No open burning pursuant to Sections B.6.a-e shall be conducted on days declared to be "ban days".

  8. Any open burning which meets the definition of wildland vegetation management burning shall be conducted in compliance with the requirements applicable to wildland vegetation management burning, regardless of whether such burning could also be conducted under some other provision of this Rule.

C. Conditions on Open Burning

A person conducting open burning pursuant to Section B.2 shall comply with the following conditions:

  1. If feasible, the burning shall be conducted when the wind speed and direction in the vicinity of the burning project will not carry emissions into populated areas. In no case shall the burning be conducted when weather conditions could cause smoke to create or contribute to an exceedance of a state or federal ambient air quality standard or cause a public nuisance.

  2. The material to be burned shall be free of other materials such as tires, rubbish, tar paper, plastics, pallets, construction debris, paper, oily waste materials, feathers, animal fur, diseased or dead animals, organic fertilizer, and noncombustible containers.

  3. The material to be burned shall not include combustible containers for pesticides or other chemicals.
  4. The material to be burned shall be reasonably free of dirt, soil and visible surface moisture.

  5. Except for wildland vegetation management burning, all unwanted trees over six inches in diameter shall be felled. Stumps shall be uprooted and reasonably free of soil.

  6. Except for wildland vegetation management burning, the material to be burned shall be allowed to become sufficiently dry to allow for maximum combustion efficiency.

    The following are minimum drying times:

Material Drying Time
Trees or branches exceeding three inches in diameter 4 weeks
Prunings and small branches three inches or less in diameter 2 weeks
Field crop wastes 1 week
Other Adequate dryness (to be evaluated by inspection)

  1. For range improvement burning, the material to be burned shall be brush treated at least six months prior to the burn if economically and technically feasible.

  2. Except for wildland vegetation management burning, the material to be burned shall be stacked or arranged to allow for maximum air circulation, to facilitate combustion and to minimize the amount of smoke emitted during combustion.

  3. For wildland vegetation management burning, the vegetation to be burned shall be in a condition which will facilitate combustion and minimize the amount of smoke emitted during combustion.

  4. The materials to be burned shall be ignited only by those devices approved by the Air Pollution Control District. Tires, tar paper, plastics, oils and other similar materials shall not be used for ignition purposes.

  5. Except for wildland vegetation management burning, the material to be burned shall be ignited as rapidly as practicable within applicable fire control restrictions.

  6. Except for wildland vegetation management burning, the burning for any specific day shall be restricted to the morning, to the afternoon or to the morning and afternoon, as allowed by the Air Pollution Control District. Any morning burn shall begin no earlier than 7 a.m., and no additional material shall be ignited or added to the open fire after noon. Any afternoon burn shall begin no earlier than noon, and no additional material shall be ignited or added to the open fire after 4 p.m.

    For wildland vegetation management burning, burning at night shall be minimized whenever practicable.

  7. For wildland vegetation management burning, a burn plan containing all of the following information shall be provided to the Air Pollution Control District for review and approval in advance of the proposed burning:

    a. The location and the specific objectives of the burn;

    b. The acreage or tonnage, type and arrangement of the vegetation to be burned;

    c. The distances and directions to nearby sensitive receptor areas;

    d. The fuel condition, combustion and meteorological prescription elements developed for the project;

    e. The project schedule and duration of project ignition, combustion and burndown;

    f. Specifications for monitoring and verifying critical parameters;

    g. A discussion of how the requirements of this Rule applicable to the burning will be satisfied;

    h. A discussion of what mitigation measures will be taken if unanticipated meteorological conditions cause smoke to create or contribute to an exceedance of a state or federal ambient air quality standard or cause a public nuisance; and

    i. Specifications for disseminating project information.

  8. The total amount of material to be burned each day shall be regulated according to criteria approved by the Air Pollution Control District. On a day when wildland vegetation management burning is scheduled to occur, the Air Pollution Control Officer may prohibit all other open burning conducted pursuant to Section B.2.

D. Violations

  1. The failure of a person to meet any requirements of this Rule shall constitute a violation of this Rule.

  2. The cost of putting out any open fire in violation of this Rule may be imposed on the person responsible for setting and maintaining that fire.

E. Burn Day Decisions

  1. The Air Pollution Control Officer shall declare a "Burn Day," for specific areas of the District, if all of the following conditions are met:

    a. The State Air Resources Board declares a permissive burn day for the South Central Coast Air Basin;

    b. The Air Pollution Control District predicts that the local meteorological conditions in the specific area will be conducive to good dispersion of smoke; and

    c. The fire protection agency with jurisdiction in the area does not prohibit burning for purposes of fire control or prevention.

    Notwithstanding the above criteria, all legal County holidays, all Saturdays following legal County holidays and all Sundays shall be declared "No-Burn Days".

  2. The Air Pollution Control Officer shall declare a "Ban Day" for the specific areas of the District where the ambient concentration of ozone exceeds or is predicted to exceed the state standard of 0.09 ppm, averaged over one hour.

F. Responsibility for Open Fires

The Air Pollution Control District and the fire protection agencies are not responsible for damages to property or to the general public resulting from open burning authorized by these rules. Responsibility rests with the person responsible for setting and maintaining the fire.

G. Notification Requirements

  1. No person shall burn any agricultural waste without first notifying the Air Pollution Control District, in writing, no later than 48 hours before burning and shall provide the following information:

    a. Name, phone number, address or location, ranch name if available, and tons of material to be burned.

    b. Approximate time of day that burning will occur.

  2. Any person that has burned agricultural waste must notify the Air Pollution Control District, in writing, no later than 48 hours after the burn and shall provide the following information:

    a. Name, address or location, date of burn, and tons of material that were burned.

    b. Whether or not the burn was completed, and if not, the amount of remaining material to be burned.

H. Definitions

  1. "Burn Day": A day, on which the Air Resources Board and the Air Pollution Control District and the fire protection agency do not prohibit open outdoor fires used for the purposes listed in Section B.2. On a "Burn Day," the Air Pollution Control District may restrict the burning to only the morning or only the afternoon, or may allow burning in both the morning and afternoon.

  2. "No-Burn Day": A day that burning is not allowed.

  3. "Ban Day": A day on which the ambient concentration of ozone exceeds or is predicted to exceed 0.09 ppm, averaged over one hour, and burning is not allowed.

  4. "Agricultural Operation": An operation directly related to the growing or harvesting of products such as food crops, raising of fowls, or animals, for the primary purpose of making a profit, of providing a livelihood, or of conducting agricultural research or instruction by an educational institution.

  5. "Agricultural Wastes": Unwanted or unsaleable materials produced wholly from agricultural operations.

    Examples of agricultural wastes include:

    a. Tree trimmings;

    b. Grass and weeds in or adjacent to fields in cultivation or being prepared for cultivation; and

    c. Materials not produced wholly from agricultural operations, but which are intimately related to the operations and which are used in the field or which result from standard agriculture practices, such as stakes or trimmings from windbreaks, except as prohibited by this Rule.

  6. "Crop": Any agricultural product grown, produced, or raised commercially for feed or for human consumption or in connection with agricultural operations.

  7. "Range Improvement Burning": The use of open fires to remove vegetation for a wildlife, game or livestock habitat or for the initial establishment of an agricultural practice on presently uncultivated land.

  8. "Brush Treated": The material to be burned has been felled, crushed or uprooted with mechanical equipment, desiccated with herbicides, or was previously dead.

  9. "Wildland Vegetation Management Burning": The use of prescribed burning conducted by a public agency, or through a cooperative agreement or contract involving a public agency, to burn land predominantly covered with chaparral (as defined in Title 14, California Administrative Code, Section 1561.1), trees, grass or standing brush.

  10. "Prescribed Burning": The planned application of fire to vegetation on lands selected in advance of such application, where any of the purposes of the burning are permitted by this Rule.