Open Burning - Nuisance Fires
The Will County Land Use Department, Resource Recovery and Energy Division receives numerous calls regarding whether open burning of certain wastes is allowed. Please be advised that under no circumstances may you burn wastes (other than onsite generated landscape waste) anywhere in the state of Illinois, unless you are permitted by the IEPA to operate an approved incinerator. There are certain exceptions, however, for agricultural or firefighting purposes, which may be found in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and the Illinois Administrative Code. Furthermore, if you reside within a municipality, contact your city or village hall to determine the specifics of the open burning restrictions pertinent to you.
If you reside outside of the limits of a village or city (unincorporated areas of the county), the County’s Nuisance Ordinance restricts open burning (see the details below). The Will County Sheriff’s Office and the Will County Land Use Department all have the authority to enforce the “Nuisance Fires” section of the County’s Nuisance Ordinance.
To assist residents' understanding of options, the Resource Recovery and Energy Division encourages alternative waste management methods other than burning landscape waste. Composting instructions are available on this website and the bins themselves are easily constructed or purchased fully assembled from home improvement stores, online or at the Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District. Composting allows residents to recycle organic waste to produce a soil additive for their shrubs, flowers, and gardens.
Another low cost way to manage yard materials is to mulch the grass/leaves on the lawn with a mulching mower. This allows nutrient rich grass to return to the lawn as a natural fertilizer and aids in retaining moisture during droughts.
Additionally, you may choose to have a waste hauler pick up your landscape waste for a fee. However, should you choose to burn landscape waste generated from the plants on your property, there are certain regulations you must follow. Below are pertinent sections of the Will County Ordinance Chapter 93: Nuisance Fires:
Section 93.017 PERMIT REQUIRED
Waste materials of any nature shall not be disposed of by burning on the premises or in the immediate vicinity without having obtained a permit from the state E.P.A.
Section 93.018 LOCATION OF FIRES
Fires shall be located not less than 50 feet, unless otherwise specifically provided for herein, from any neighboring structure with adequate provision made to prevent spreading of the fire. Legitimate recreation fires shall be located not less than 50 feet from any neighboring structure. Burning in right-of-way is strictly prohibited.
Fires contained in a “patio wood-burning unit,” being a chimney, patio warmer, or other portable wood-burning device used for outdoor recreation and/or heating shall by at least 15 feet from any neighboring structure.
Section 93.0185 RECREATION FIRES
Recreation fires, being fires used to entertain or cook, may burn sticks, limbs, logs, charcoal, cooking, or camping fuel only. Recreation fires may not exceed an area dimension of six feet by six feet. In conformance with Section 93.017 above Waste Materials including but not limited to; garbage, trash, refuse, lumber, building materials, or tires shall not be burned in recreation fires.
Section 93.019 FIRES TO BE ATTENDED
All fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person until such fire is extinguished. This person shall have a hose connected to a water supply or other fire extinguishing equipment ready for use. This person shall be responsible for notifying the local fire department before starting the fire.
Section 93.020 EXCEPTIONS
Section 93.017 does not apply to the burning of leaves, branches or bushes originating on owner’s property. Section 93.017 also does not apply to controlled burns for agricultural purposes, habitat reclamation, firefighter training.
Section 93.021 NEIGHBORING STRUCTURE
Neighboring structure means any and all buildings of adjacent land owner(s) whether structured on a foundation or mobile, including but not limited to houses, garages, sheds, pole barns.
Section 93.022 WASTE MATERIAL
Waste Material means all substances liquid, semi-solid or solid other than, leaves, sticks, logs, branches and bushes originating on the owners property, charcoal and cooking or camping fuel.
Should you have any questions or complaints regarding open burning, please do not hesitate to call the
Will County Land Use Department, Resource Recovery and Energy Division at 815-727-8834 or the Sheriff’s Office at 815-727-8575. Click here to access our on-line complaint form.