Open Burning

Category 1, 2, and 3 burning is permitted with a permit in the Courtenay Fire Protection District, Merville Fire Protection District and the Tsolum Farnham Fire Protection District.


Open air burning has been banned in the City of Courtenay since 2008.

Fireworks are restricted in the City of Courtenay. Fireworks cannot be discharged or sold within City limits. Some exceptions apply - please see the Fire Protective Services Bylaw for more information.

Open Burning within the Fire Protection Districts

Open burning permits are issued by the Courtenay Fire Department for the three fire protections districts under their jurisdiction unless a fire ban is in effect.

Courtenay Fire Protection District, Merville Fire Protection District and Tsolum-Farnham Fire Protection District residents require an open burning permit for the following:

Category 2 open fire - As defined in the Wildfire Regulation (s.1);an open fire, other than a campfire, that burns

(a)    material in one pile not exceeding 1m x 1m x 1m,

(b)    burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description; and

(c)   stubble or grass over an area that does not exceed 0.2 ha


Category 3 open fire - As defined in the Wildfire Regulation (s.1); an open fire that burns

(a) material concurrently in 3 or more piles each not exceeding 2 m in height and 3 m in width,
(b) material in one or more piles each exceeding 2 m in height or 3 m in width,
(c) one or more windrows, or
(d) stubble or grass over an area exceeding 0.2 ha

Category 3 open fires shall meet the requirments of the BC Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation as enacted on September 15, 2019. The link to the regulation is as follows Please visit the Courtenay Fire Department or call 250-334-2513 for assistance with burning permits

Fire Bans Explained

There are 3 categories of open fires:

  • Category 1 (Campfires) no larger than 0.5m x 0.5m
  • Category 2 (Backyard burns) no larger than 1m x 1m x 1m
  • Category 3 (Land clearing fires/Machine Pile Fires) anything larger than 2 m in height and 3 m

The Courtenay Fire Department protects two different types of areas:

  1. Municipality (City of Courtenay)

  2. Fire Protection Areas (Courtenay Fire Protection /Merville Fire Protection /Tsolum-Franham):
    The Comox Valley Regional District has contracted fire protection of these areas to the City of Courtenay.

The City of Courtenay’s Fire Bylaw [PDF - 188 KB] states that open burning is prohibited year-round within the City of Courtenay boundary.

Each Fire Protection District has its own Fire Bylaw that states when burning is permitted and what conditions are required.

The bans that are set are categorized into the 3 categories of open fires:

  • Category 1 (Campfire) bans: affects campgrounds and Merville residents as they are permitted to have campfires in their district.
  • Category 2 (Backyard Burn) bans: affects most permits issued by the fire department for the districts.
  • Category 3 (Land Clearing) bans: all land clearing permits in the district are void.

When do I need a permit?

The fire protection areas require a permit for:

  • Category 2 fires from April 1 – October 31
  • Category 3 fires year round

*Category 1 fires (campfires) are permitted in the Merville Fire Protection District ONLY year round WITHOUT a permit as long as there is no fire ban in place.

When a fire ban is announced by the province, it applies to crown lands that fall outside a fire department's coverage area. It is up to individual fire departments to administer their own rules for the areas they protect.

The Courtenay Fire Department generally follows the province's lead when administering fire bans, and usually will mirror what the province sets.

Typically, Category 1 (campfires) are banned first. Category 3 fires are typically banned last, as they have the most stringent fire safety guidelines. This is why you may continue to see land-clearing fires even when campfires and/or back yard burn fires are banned.

Portable Outside Fireplaces

The Courtenay Fire Department frequently receives inquiries about portable outside fire places, including chimineas. These devices are not permitted in the City of Courtenay. Burning wood in a portable outside fireplace is prohibited, and the user could be subject to a fine as outlined in the Fire Protective Services Bylaw [PDF - 184 KB]

Outdoor fireplaces that use natural gas, propane or briquettes are permitted.

Alternatives to Open Burning in the City of Courtenay

The City of Courtenay’s Yard Waste Program provides year-round, curb side unlimited yard waste pick-up on the same day as regular garbage collection.