Burn Ban FAQ
Burn bans are just that – a ban on burning which is enforced by state law. Burn bans are based upon not only the immediate predicted weather conditions but also the long-term weather forecast, the condition of wildland fuels, current fire behavior, and fire occurrences.
What is the County Commissioners Notification Process?
Notice of a burn ban resolution shall be submitted to:
- Forestry Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry via email at OkBurnBans@ag.ok.gov. Faxed copies will not be accepted. Resolutions received by 4:00 PM will be posted on the Oklahoma Forestry Services website the same day. All notices received after 4:00 will be posted the following day.
- County Commissioners must also notify all local news media, local law enforcement officials, and the state headquarters of the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Department of Wildlife Conservation on the day of passage of the resolution.
What is the duration of County Commissioner issued Burn Bans?
The resolution shall be effective for a period not to exceed fourteen (14) days from the date of passage by the board of county commissioners unless the burn ban is rescinded by the same body, using the same method by which it was approved. If extreme fire danger conditions persist, subsequent resolutions may be passed by the board of county commissioners and must also be submitted as described above.
What types of burn bans are there?
There are county-issued burn bans and Governor-proclaimed burn bans. A Governor proclaimed burn ban supersedes county burn bans. Governor burn bans may be issued for groups of counties, or for all counties.
What criteria are used to proclaim a burn ban?
There are different criteria for county-issued burn bans and Governor-issued burn bans. For links to the data sources click here. County burn ban criteria are a subset of those used by OFS to recommend a Governor-proclaimed ban. The intent is to make it easier for county burn bans to be issued and removed (allowing for rapid changes in local conditions).
County commissioners determine the need with the advice of the county’s fire chiefs. Prior to passage of a burn-ban resolution, the board of county commissioners must declare the existence of extreme fire danger. As defined in law, extreme fire danger means:
- Severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions exist within the county as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)
- No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast for the next three days by the National Weather Service
Either of the following:
- Fire occurrence is significantly greater than normal for the season or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior
- Where data is available, more than 20 percent of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burns or controlled burns.
In addition to evaluating county burn ban criteria, OFS uses additional data related to the wildland fuels conditions and predicted fire behavior to determine the need for a Governor-issued burn ban. These criteria are found on the Fire Weather and Fuel Criteria page of this website.
What are the differences in length and penalties between the two types of burn bans?
County-issued burn bans are passed by a vote of the county commissioners. The resolution can be for up to 14 days in length. Any person convicted of a violation of a county-issued burn ban shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment for up to one year or to both.
Governor-issued burn bans are proclaimed by a resolution signed by the Governor. Requests for the proclamation are made to the Governor by the Forestry Services Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry through the Secretary of Agriculture. State-issued burn bans remain in place until conditions improve (as determined by State Forestry). Any person convicted of a violation of a Governor-issued burn ban shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $1000, imprisonment for up to one year or to both.
Who is responsible to enforce burn bans?
Any law enforcement officer in the state may enforce both County-issued and/or Governor-issued burn bans.