Open Burning/Recreational Fires

Burn Permits, Open Burning, Recreation Fires, Bonfires and Portable Outdoor Fireplaces


An outdoor fire utilized for ceremonial purposes.

Open Burning
The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. Open burning does not include road flares, smudgepots and similar devices associated with safety or occupational uses typically considered open flames, recreational fires or use of portable outdoor fireplaces. For the purpose of this definition, a chamber shall be regarded as enclosed when, during the time combustion occurs, only apertures, ducts, stacks, flues or chimneys necessary to provide combustion air and permit the escape of exhaust gas are open.

Portable Outdoor Fireplace
A portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design, or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney opening in the top.

Recreational Fire
An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 4 feet (1219 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.

Within Billings City Limits
In general, open burning, recreational fires, and bonfires are prohibited inside the city limits.

  • All city burn permits are issued by the Fire Marshal’s Office (406-657-8423) located at Fire Station 1, 2305 8th Avenue North, Billings, MT.
  • Agricultural burning is allowed as open burning at the discretion of the Fire Marshal. Agricultural properties are typically zoned or designated by the Department of Revenue for agricultural use.  Open burning is permitted only during daylight hours and shall not be conducted within 50 feet of any structure or other combustible material.
    • The permit holder must notify the City/County Dispatch Center (657-8200) prior to igniting the fire and after the burn is complete.
  • A burn permit is not required for portable outdoor fireplaces. For structures other than a residence (one or two family dwelling), outdoor fireplaces shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material. firepit.jpg
  • A portable outdoor fireplace may be constructed by a property owner or occupant. Such outdoor fireplaces shall be constructed of noncombustible materials such as masonry bricks, shall have a non-combustible bottom made of concrete or bricks, and shall have a fire/fuel area not to exceed 4 feet in diameter. The outdoor fireplace shall be portable in design and not permanent.
  • Bonfires shall not be conducted within 50 feet of a structure or combustible material.
  • Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.
  • Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires, and use of outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. Approved on-site fire extinguishing equipment shall be available for immediate use.
  • When recreational fires, bon fires, portable outdoor fireplaces, or open burning creates or adds to a hazardous situation, or a required permit for burning has not been obtained, the fire marshal is authorized to order the extinguishment of the burning operation.
Within Yellowstone County
  • All burn permits are issued by Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services (406-256-2775) You can obtain a permit on-line at: or in person at:
Yellowstone County DES office
Yellowstone County Courthouse
217 N. 27th Street, Room 312
Billings, MT 59101

Additional information can be found at:
Red Flag Warnings
No open burning is allowed in Yellowstone County or the City of Billings during a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning.

Fire Restrictions
During Stage I and Stage II Fire Restrictions, limited burning may be allowed in the County and City depending upon the circumstances. For this to occur, specific written authorization from the Fire Marshal/Fire Department must be provided.