Controlled & Residential Burning
Site Clearing Debris Burns, Prescribed Burns, and Residential Burns in St. Johns County
St. Johns County Administration and the Board of County Commissioners are aware of concerns and questions within the community regarding site clearing debris burns on large development sites. The County does not have legal ability or regulatory authority to manage or control burnings related to residential development, large land clearing, agriculture, or silviculture. State of Florida statute authorizes the Florida Forest Service to regulate these types of site clearing debris burns. In addition, St. Johns County does not have the ability to regulate prescribed burns in forested areas or on public lands that are conducted by state or federal agencies. For additional information regarding state-regulated site clearing debris burns or prescribed burns, please visit www.sjcfl.us/FirePrevention/OpenBurning.aspx or www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Wildland-Fire/Burn-Authorizations, or call the Florida Forest Service at 386.585.6150. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection regulates air quality and can also be reached at 904.256.1553. St. Johns County does have the legal authority to regulate residential burning, including permitting bonfires, prohibiting fires on beaches or open burning of certain materials, and allowing campfires and small-scale yard trash or household paper product burning. For more information on local residential burning, please see below, or call 904.209.0624.
Prohibited Open Burning
Type of Materials – The open burning of tires, rubber material, asphalt, roofing material, tar, railroad crossties, other lumber which has been treated with creosote, plastics, garbage and trash are prohibited by Florida Administrative Code, Chapter 62-256.
Fires on the Beach – Open fires, of any kind, are prohibited on the beach. All other fires similar to those for the purpose of cooking must be self-contained and removed from the beach in the same manner in which they arrived. To learn more, please visit St. Johns County Beach Code Ordinance 2007-19 or Beach Services.
Bonfires – Bonfires require a permit from the County Fire Marshal’s office. Please call (904) 209-1740 for more information.
Large Land Clearing, Agricultural, and Silvicultural Burning – These types of open burning are regulated and permitted through the Florida Forest Service, please contact them at (386) 585-6151 for more information.
No Permit Required
Please Note: In drought emergencies almost all open burning may be prohibited, including those listed below.
Campfires – A campfire, which is used solely for recreational purposes, or for outdoor non-commercial preparation of food, or on cold days for warming of outdoor workers, is normally permitted without a permit. The fire must not produce excessive visible emissions (which usually means that the wood used must be dry, so that it does not produce excessive smoke). Burning of prohibited materials, such as garbage, plastics, or rubber is not permitted. You cannot burn yard trash or household paper products after dark, or without meeting other restrictions, by calling it a campfire.
Yard Trash or Household Paper Products – While Florida regulations currently permit the open burning of certain types of yard trash (such as leaves, limbs, and plant clippings) St. Johns County Fire Rescue does not recommend that you do. In many areas it is impossible to meet the requirements for open burning due to small lot sizes and the clearances that must be maintained. To reduce the potential for wildfires, to improve the air quality in our community, and to reduce your potential liability, we suggest that you make use of (free) curbside pick-up of yard trash. Check with your local provider for information on the pick up day in your neighborhood.
If you choose to burn your yard trash rather than having it picked up, make sure that you comply with all applicable conditions and restrictions. Visit the Florida Forest Service website for trash burning laws. Please be aware that you may be held liable for both damages and the cost of extinguishment if your controlled burn escapes.
I would rather use curbside pick-up than burn my yard trash, what do I need to know? All residents in the unincorporated areas of St. Johns County have pick up of yard trash available as part of your household trash pickup service. Pick up service is available at least once a week, please call your local service provider for information on the pick-up day in your neighborhood.
Advanced Disposal services residents in the southern half of St. Johns County (south of the St. Johns River following CR 208 and south of SR 16 to the ocean). 3530 Agricultural Center Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32092. (904) 827-1005.
Republic Services services residents in the northern half of St. Johns County (north of the St. Johns River following CR 208 and north of SR 16 to the ocean). 445A International Golf Pkwy, St. Augustine, FL 32095. (904) 825-0991.
You will not be charged extra to have your yard trash picked up. Yard trash picked up in this manner is usually recycled into mulch, and therefore does not take up limited landfill space.
Small yard trash should be placed in garbage cans or plastic yard trash bags. The County’s Solid Waste Department asks that you please observe the weekly limit of 5 cubic yards (or about 20 bags). Tree limbs must be cut to not more than 6 feet in length, and cannot exceed 6 inches in diameter. Stack them parallel to each other, they do not have to be in bags or cans. Visit Solid Waste's www.recyclestjohns.com, for more information.