What Is the Difference Between an Open Burn and a Prescribed Fire?

The term “open burn” refers to debris, brush and trash fires. Ohio EPA defines an open burn as any outdoor fire without a chimney or stack.

Open burning is particularly dangerous in the spring and fall, when the leaves are on the ground, the grass is not green, and the weather is warm, dry and windy.

“Prescribed fire” refers to fires that are intentionally lit, under predetermined conditions, to meet various resource management objectives. Prescribed fire can be used as a tool to eliminate undesirable vegetation and reduce hazardous fuel levels. When managed carefully, prescribed fire can stimulate the growth of native vegetation and reduce fire hazards brought on by the accumulation of dead vegetation.

Prescribed fires may be conducted during the burn ban, but only with the permission of the Chief of the Division of Forestry. To conduct a prescribed fire when open-burning is prohibited, an Ohio Certified Prescribed Fire Manager must request a waiver from Ohio DNR Division of Forestry.