NJ Fire Restrictions – From BBQ’s to fire pits what you can and cannot burn
🔥 New Jersey continues to be extremely dry. Not much rain in sight
🔥 New Jersey has imposed tough new fire restrictions
🔥 What does that mean for your BBQ or fire pit?
New Jersey is toughening fire and outdoor burning restrictions to try and reduce the risk of sparking more wildfires.
It has been an extremely active wildfire season in New Jersey brought on by extremely dry conditions. With little rain in the forecast, those conditions are likely to last at least through the weekend.
How dry is it?
The last widespread rainfall in New Jersey was in late April.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Zarrow notes, "The brush is very dry and the ground is thirsty. Add to that relatively low humidity levels, and it contributes to potentially rapid spread of any fire that does spark."
Zarrow says the one saving grace, at this moment anyway: Light winds.
"That is the only thing keeping us from reaching 'warning' criteria," Zarrow says, "We need a good soaking to stave off fire danger and drought concerns. There is a chance for widespread rain early next week."
What is the fire danger?
The dangers of forest and brush fires remains 'very high' for the majority of the state.
Six Southern New Jersey counties have a 'high' fire danger.
The state uses a five-tiered fire danger rating system. "Extreme" danger is the highest rating. 'Very high' is the second highest rating.
The state also uses a three-tiered system of fire burning restrictions.
Depending on your location, you are under 'stage 3' or 'stage 2' restrictions
What does that mean?
Generally, all fires in wooded areas are now prohibited, except in specific circumstances.
Can I use my grill?
It depends on where you are, and what fire danger rating is in effect at that location.
Northern and Central New Jersey are under 'stage 3' restrictions.
South Jersey is under a 'stage 2' restriction.
What do those stages mean?
Each stage imposes different types of burning restrictions.
Stage 2 Restriction
All fires in wooded areas will be prohibited unless in an elevated prepared fireplace, elevated charcoal grill or stove using electricity or a liquid or gas fuel.
Stage 3 Restriction
All fires in wooded areas will be prohibited unless contained in an elevated stove using only propane, natural gas, gas, or electricity.
No charcoal fires are allowed.
Whether you are under 'stage 2' or 'stage 3' restrictions, take note of your surroundings and make sure there are no other combustible materials around.
Do not leave hot coals unattended.
Can I use my outdoor fire pit?
Open burning on the ground is prohibited.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protections, fires in wooded areas are prohibited if you are in a 'stage 2' location unless the fire is in "an elevated prepared fireplace."
An elevated prepared fireplace must meet the following criteria:
🔴 Constructed of steel, stone, brick or concrete
🔴 Elevated at least one foot above the ground
🔴 Surrounded by a mineral soil radius no less than ten feet
Can I burn leaves, grass or trash?
It is a violation of the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code to do open burning.
No open burning of any kind is allowed.
Can I have a bonfire?
Having a bonfire requires a permit, which is issued by the Forest Fire Service in cooperation with local firewardens.
Firewardens may place any restrictions or special conditions on burning that local conditions may warrant.
Given the elevated forest fire risk, permits may not be granted.
What if I do it anyway?
Chances are, you'll be arrested. You'll also be fined. A lot.
Violations may result in fines to $5,000 and reimbursement of costs associated with extinguishing the fire.