Open Burning and Recreational Fires

Recreational fires are allowed within the City of Virginia Beach, however, there is a strict set of regulations that must be followed. City code sections 12.1-12.6 have separate stipulations that are not found in the Fire Code which must also be followed.

Open Burning General Regulations

  • Opening burning that is offensive or objectionable because of smoke emissions or when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fire hazardous shall be prohibited.

  • The Fire Department has the authority to extinguish any fire, permitted or not, that creates, or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation. Any repeated calls for service to a particular location may require that the fire be extinguished.

  • Permits are required for Pit burns and Bonfires.

  • Bonfires must be at least 50ft from any structure and provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading within 50ft of any structure. Bonfires can be no larger than 5ft x 5ft x 5ft.

  • Recreational fire must be at least 25ft from any structure or combustible material. These fires can be no larger than 3ft wide by 2ft tall. Anything larger will be considered a bonfire.

  • Portable outdoor fire fireplaces (commercially sold units) must be at least 15ft from any structure or anything combustible.

  • Fires must be attended at all times and the means to extinguish a fire must be readily available for instant use. An extinguisher with the minimum rating of 4-A and/or other approved equipment such as dirt, sand, water barrels, garden hoses, or water trucks shall be available for instant use.

  • Hot Embers and ashes shall be thoroughly extinguished when the fire will no longer be attended and prior to disposal in a non-combustible container.

  • City Code relating to Open Burning can be found here.

Open Burning FAQs

Pit Burning, Bonfires, Agricultural Burning, and Fires at Special Events

Pit burns, bonfires, and fires at special events require an application to be filled out and a permit issued by the FPB. 

Agricultural Burning

Agricultural burning requires the applicant to first obtain approval from the Department of Agriculture. Applicants can visit their site by clicking here. After obtaining approval from the Department of Agricultural, Fire Prevention will schedule a site visit to verify information on the application. All applicants must also sign the stipulations that have been outlined by the Fire Prevention Bureau.

Agricultural Burning Stipulations

Pit Burns

All pit burn operations must be approved by Fire Prevention prior to operating. After an application has been submitted a site visit will be performed to verify that all information is correct and that all permit conditions are met.

Pit Burn Application​

All Pit Burns and Agricultural Burns can only burn natural debris on the permitted property. Applicants are not allowed to accept debris from other locations. These practices are grounds to have any approved permit revoked.

Please contact our office with any questions