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Sparks Fire – Open Burning



The items listed are basic information only. Additional requirements may apply.


International Code Council
Fire Code Definitions:

Open Burning. The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. Open burning does not include recreational fires, cooking fires, or warming fires. Open burning is allowed by permit only.

Open-Flame Cooking Devices.  Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible or non- combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction.
1. One- and two-family dwellings.
2. LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas container with a water capacity not greater than 21/2 pounds [nominal 1 pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity].
3. Electric barbecue grills.

Portable Outdoor Fireplace. Defined as a solid-fuel burning portable fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay, or other non-combustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design, or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney opening in the top.

Recreational Fire. An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit.  See document for design detail.

Rubbish (Trash). Combustible and noncombustible waste materials, including residue from the burning of coal, coke or other combustible material, paper, rags, cartons, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, plastic or vinyl products.

Extinguishment Authority. Where any fire creates or adds to a hazardous situation, or a required permit for open burning has not been obtained, the Sparks Fire Department is authorized to order the extinguishment of any fire.

Attendance. All fires shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. Not fewer than one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.

Sky Lanterns. Sky lanterns are prohibited.

General. A person shall not kindle or maintain or authorize to be kindled or maintained any fire unless conducted and approved in accordance with City of Sparks local ordinances and 2018 International Fire Code.



General public OPEN BURNING is illegal in the City of Sparks.

*The exception is agricultural land, which there is only one parcel in the city that qualifies.

RUBBISH (TRASH) fires are illegal in the City of Sparks.

This includes the use of burn barrels, yard debris, vegetation, garbage, etc.  Even if someone is in attendance with a garden hose, this type of burning is illegal.

Burning on a RED air quality day is illegal.  Exempt: Cooking Devices.
(Washoe County Air Quality)

Burning on a RED FLAG day is illegal.  Exempt: Cooking Devices.
(National Weather Service)



Backyard RECREATIONAL Fires are Legal if the following requirements are met.

· They are 25 feet from a structure or fence
· May not be larger than 3 feet in diameter or 2 feet in height
· Must be in a permanent structure, outdoor fireplace made of non-combustible material
· Must have a screen constructed of woven or welded wire screening of 12 USA standard gage wire having openings not exceeding ½ inch in order to prevent embers from escaping
· May not be used to burn rubbish (plain, untreated wood or paper only)


Portable outdoor fireplaces. Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible fence.
All fireplaces must have:
· A screen constructed of woven or welded wire screening of 12 USA standard gage wire having openings not exceeding ½ inch in order to prevent embers from escaping
· A grill over the fireplace when cooking


A permit from the Sparks Fire Department is required for open burning and recreational fires that do not fall within the above definitions of a recreational fire or portable outdoor fireplace.



Waste accumulation prohibited. Combustible waste material creating a fire hazard shall not be allowed to accumulate in buildings or structures or upon premises.

Waste material. Accumulations of wastepaper, wood, hay, straw, weeds, litter or combustible or flammable waste or rubbish of any type shall not be permitted to remain on a roof or in any court, yard, vacant lot, alley, parking lot, open space, or beneath a grandstand, bleacher, pier, wharf, manufactured home, recreational vehicle or other similar structure.

Vegetation. Weeds, grass, vines or other growth that is capable of being ignited and endangering property, shall be cut down and removed by the owner or occupant of the premises. Vegetation clearance requirements in urban-wildland interface areas shall be in accordance with the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code.



Clearance from ignition sources. Clearance between ignition sources, such as luminaires, heaters, flame-producing devices and combustible materials, shall be maintained in an approved manner.

Hot ashes and spontaneous ignition sources. Hot ashes, cinders, smoldering coals or greasy or oily materials subject to spontaneous ignition shall not be deposited in a combustible receptacle, within 10 feet (3048 mm) of other combustible material including combustible walls and partitions or within 2 feet (610 mm) of openings to buildings.
The minimum required separation distance to other combustible materials shall be 2 feet (610 mm) where the material is deposited in a covered, noncombustible receptacle placed on a noncombustible floor, ground surface or stand.

Deliberate or negligent burning. It shall be unlawful to deliberately or through negligence set fire to or cause the burning of combustible material in such a manner as to endanger the safety of persons or property.

Unwanted fire ignitions. Acts or processes that have caused repeated ignition of unwanted fires shall be modified to prevent future ignition.



Can I have a BBQ on my patio at my apartment/condo complex?


What if the smoke from a neighbor’s recreational fire has a negative affect on my health/breathing?

Unfortunately, if the fire pit meets the legal standards of the International Code Council, and burning is allowed per air quality, and red flag guidelines, we cannot make them extinguish the fire.

Can I burn leaves or weeds or tree branches?

No.  Leaves, weeds, trash, or garbage can never be burned in Sparks as a means of disposal.

Can I build a permanent fire place or large barbecue in my yard?

Yes.  A building permit may be required.  Contact the City of Sparks Building Department at (775) 353-2306 or permitdesk@cityofsparks.us.

Can I burn wood in a 55 gallon barrel as a recreational fire?

All recreational fires must meet the requirements within this document.