Commissioners to review burn permit policies and open fire restrictions for unincorporated Boulder County


Public invited to comment at hearing scheduled for May 22 at 9:30 a.m.


Boulder County, Colo. – The Boulder County Commissioners will review recommended modifications to the county’s existing ordinance restricting open fires on “red flag” days at a public hearing on Tuesday.


The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is recommending that the current ordinance be repealed and replaced with an updated policy that requires permitting for non-agricultural burns and further restricts open burning where the danger of forest or grass fires is found to be high. The new ordinance will address identification of red flag warning days, notification regarding open burning, and penalties for violating statute, ordinance, and requirements of the open burn permit system or the notification system.


“A relatively new state law requires counties to develop a permit system this year, for property owners wanting to burn slash and conduct open burning,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. “The Sheriff’s Office has been working closely with the Department of Public Health to develop a ‘one stop’ permit process which incorporates both the requirements of the state regarding air quality, and our needs regarding safety.”


Part of the plan includes educational and training materials for the individuals seeking permits. It is being developed to be administered online. These proposed new permit requirements do not apply to agricultural burning. They would primarily affect people in unincorporated Boulder County wanting to burn slash piles.


Also to be considered is the recommendation that fire restrictions go into effect under an expanded list of circumstances that contribute to high fire danger, such as during High Wind Advisories. Currently the ordinance only specifies that all open burning, including agricultural burning, be prohibited when the National Weather Service issues a “Red Flag Warning” for fire danger.


“We have found that fires continue to grow out of control on days when the county is under a High Wind Watch or Advisory, and that common sense sometimes does not prevail when deciding whether or not to burn on windy days,” added Pelle. “We wish to include those windy weather conditions under the proposed new ordinance, as times when open burning would be illegal.”


Members of the public are invited to review the draft ordinance online and provide comments in writing or in person at the hearing.


The first reading for the ordinance will be held:


            When:   9:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 22

            What:     Public hearing on an ordinance establishing an open burn permit system, notification process of open burns, and restrictions during red flag days, high wind watch days and high wind warning days

            Where:   Boulder County Courthouse, 3rd Floor, Commissioners’ Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl Street, Boulder             

The hearing can be viewed online at:


A copy of the draft ordinance is available at: (search by keyword “ordinances.”)


On a related note, the Sheriff’s Office will be presenting an amendment to the fire ban currently in effect for the mountain areas of Boulder County at the Commissioners’ next business meeting. The proposed amendment will include a provision to extend the ban on the sale and use of fireworks to all of unincorporated Boulder County. The public is invited to attend and comment on the proposed changes at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 22 in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room.