Backyard Campfires – What You Need to Know

All open burning is regulated by the State of New Jersey either by the Division of Fire Safety, New Jersey Forest Fire Service, or New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Most open burning requires a permit, however a campfire is allowed on property owned and occupied by you without a fire safety permit under the following conditions:

  • Check the NJ Forest fire service website to insure there are no restrictions on outdoor burning or campfires.
  • Fuel for the fire shall consist only of seasoned dry firewood and shall be ignited with a small quantity of paper.
  • Check the weather conditions; don’t burn on dry, windy days!
  • Build campfires away from trees, overhanging branches, stumps, logs, dense dry grass, and forest litter. Pile any extra fire wood away from the fire. Keep plenty of water handy and have a shovel for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Start with dry twigs and small sticks. Add larger sticks as the fire builds up. Put the largest pieces of wood on last, pointing them toward the center of the fire, and gradually push them into the flames.
  • Keep the campfire small. Any outdoor fire cannot be larger than 2 feet by 2 feet. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks gives plenty of heat. Scrape away litter, duff, and any organic material for a radius of 10-feet in all directions. This will keep a small campfire from spreading.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended!! Even a small breeze could quickly cause the fire to spread.
  • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks, there may be burning embers underneath.
  • Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled. If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough soil or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled. Feel all materials with
    the back of your bare hand. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals – they can smolder and result in a fire.

If you have any additional questions or safety concerns, please contact the Mendham Bureau of Fire Prevention.

See Also: New Jersey Uniform Fire Code / State Fire Prevention Code Open Flames or Burning