Outdoor Burning and Permit Policy


All outdoor burning (brush pile, leaves, cooking or camp fires) is regulated by the State of New Hampshire, Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forest and Lands. Information relative to permits, damages and penalties can be found under NH RSA Chapter 227-L (link is external). As such, most of the requirements outlined in this document are set forth by the State of New Hampshire and enforced by either a State Forest Ranger or the local (Town) forest fire or deputy fire warden.

Who can issue a Burning Permit?

Only the local forest fire warden or deputy forest fire warden may issue burning permits. The Milford Fire Chief is the Town forest fire warden and deputy forest fire wardens consist of the Fire Department officers.

What kind of burning requires a Permit?

A permit is required for all outside burning except when the ground is covered with snow. Outside burning is any kind that is not completely contained within a non-combustible enclosure containing a flue with a spark arrestor. Charcoal or gas fire grills, cooking appliances, etc. are not required to have an outdoor burning permit.

How do I obtain a Permit?

Permits can be obtained at the Milford Fire Department, 39 School Street, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Weekend and Holiday permits will be issude on Fridays. Permits are available anytime onlie at https://nhdflweb.sovsportsnet.net/

By State requirements permits for burning brush or leaves can only be issued on the day you wish to burn and cannot be issued in advance due to varying weather conditions.

When is outdoor burning allowed?

Outdoor burning with a permit is allowed from 5:00 PM to 12:00 midnight. The 5:00 start time is established by the State of New Hampshire and is enforced. If a permit holder starts a fire before 5:00 PM resulting in the dispatch of the Fire Department that person is liable for the Department’s expenses and may be billed accordingly.

Burning while it is raining

Outside burning while it is raining still requires a permit. On those days that it is raining the permit holder may start the fire at any time and is not subject to the 5:00 PM start time.

Burning while the ground is covered with snow

Outside burning while the ground is covered with snow does not require a permit. We request that you contact the Milford Area Communication Center at 673-1414 and inform them that you are burning. Burning make take place anytime during the day with sufficient snow cover. Please be advised that spotty snow cover does NOT constitute a ground cover of snow.

Permit holders' responsibillity

All outdoor fires must be continuously attended by an adult until the fire is extinguished. Attended means direct visual contact.  Sufficient water to control the fire must be present at the burn site at all times. The fire must be completely extinguished with water once burning is complete and burying the fire or pile is not allowed. The permit holder is responsible for any damages occurring as a result of his/her fire. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to, liability or costs incurred by the Milford Fire Department for a fire that is unattended, out of control, or otherwise not determined to be safe.

What can or cannot be burned?
  • Brush - Brush must be less than 5” in diameter. No stumps can be burned
  • Debris - Clean wood product only. It cannot be painted
  • Paper and Trash -  As of January 1, 2003, paper and trash can no longer be burned due to air quality issues per the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
  • Rubbish incinerators are no longer allowed.
  • Leaves - Leaves may be burned with a permit.
  • Construction debris consisting of asphalt shingles, metals of all types, gypsum board cannot be burned.
Smoke Complaints

All smoke complaints are investigated by a Fire Department officer. If the smoke condition is determined to be excessive or unacceptable by the Fire Department the fire must be extinguished and the permit will be revoked.

Burning Bans

From time to time a burning ban may be issued by either the State of New Hampshire or the Town fire warden/fire chief as a result of unusually dry or high wind conditions. Any permit issued prior to the ban will be rescinded and considered null and void.

Seasonal Permits

The fire warden or deputy fire warden may issue a seasonal permit for camping and cooking fires only. Seasonal permits run to the end of the calendar year and are subject to the same restrictions as regular permits. Seasonal permits cannot be issued for brush or leaves due to varying daily weather conditions. Individuals holding a seasonal permit must still contact the Milford Fire Department during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, or the Milford Area Communication Center (673-1414), weekends, holidays and after 4:30 PM weekdays to verify that a burning ban is not in effect and make notification of their intent to use their seasonal permit on that particular day.

Commercial Burning Permits

Commercial burning permits for special situations may be issued to businesses or contractors by the Regional Forest Ranger and the local fire chief. The decision to issue a commercial burning permit is made on a case by case basis. Residential homeowners are not eligible for commercial burning permits.

Unsafe Conditions

If in the opinion of any Fire Department officer that an unsafe condition exists due to outside burning the fire must be extinguished immediately. Failure to do so may result in a criminal citation and/or reimbursement to the Town of Milford for all extinguishment costs.

Milford Fire Department
39 School Street - MIlford, NH 03055
Business (603)249-0680