My Two Cents

Derek McMillin, Firefighter/EMT
City of Omaha Fire
and Rescue Department



Every year the Omaha Fire Department receives numerous questions from citizens on what constitutes a safe fire and what is and isn’t legal when dealing with recreational burning. It is important to know these requirements so outdoor burning can remain safe and enjoyable. Failure to follow good safety practices with these fires can lead to serious injuries and property damage.

There are a few types of outdoor burning that would be legal within the City of Omaha without the issuance of a “burn permit”. This would include:

• Cooking on standard barbecue equipment.

• Use of an outdoor fireplace or “portable” outdoor fireplace.

• Fire contained within a “barbecue pit or ring”.

The burning of leaves, grass clippings, brush, trash, construction debris, or any other type of rubbish for the purpose of salvage or destruction is strictly prohibited.

Cooking on standard barbecue equipment

• Use of charcoal and other open flame cooking devices is strictly prohibited and shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction. The exceptions are:

            • One- and two-family dwellings.

            • Where buildings, balconies, and decks are protected by an automatic
               sprinkler system.

            • Liquified-petroleum-gas-fueled cooking devices having an LP-gas container
               with a water capacity no greater than 2.5 pounds (normal 1 pound LP-gas capacity).

• The use of portable “outdoor fireplace” is permitted within the City of Omaha.

• Fuel for the portable “outdoor fireplace” shall be limited to Charcoal; Clean, dry “fire wood”; Commercial “fire logs”; and/or clean untreated lumber.

• A portable “outdoor fireplace” shall be at least 15 feet from a combustible structure.

This would include a deck or overhang. The exception would be portable “outdoor fireplaces” used at one- and two-family dwellings. (Please note: The Omaha Fire Department does not recommend using a portable outdoor fire place within 15 feet of any combustible construction.)

• A portable “outdoor fireplace” shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.

• A fire extinguisher (rating of 4A or greater), garden hose, or some other means of extinguishment shall be available for immediate utilization.

Where fireworks use is legal, follow these important safety tips:

• Always have adult supervision.

• If children find fireworks, they should alert an adult, who should properly dispose them.

• Do not lean over firework, turn your head to the side when lighting.

• Do not hold any fireworks in your hand when lighting.

• Do not discard spent Sparklers on the ground. Put them in a bucket of water.

• The only legal sparklers are the ones with wooden stems. (NEW in 2014)

• Light fireworks with a punk stick. After using it, dispose in a bucket of water.

• FIREWORKS CAN AND DO START FIRES! Be aware of your surroundings and where the fireworks are landing.

• If an injury or fire does occur, CALL 911 immediately and wait for trained emergency personnel.

Fireworks can add much pleasure and enjoyment to our holidays. Be safe this Fourth of July.  Attend a public fireworks display by the professionals.

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