Open Air Burning Permits

Residential open air burning of yard debris in Westford is allowed between January 15th and May 1st with a burning permit issued by the Fire Department.

How to apply for a open air burning permit.

  • Westford residents can Apply for Open Air Burning Permit online through the Town of Westford website, or in person at Westford Fire Headquarters located at 65 Boston Road.
  • There is no fee for the permit. Once a permit is obtained, it is valid for the entire burning season unless otherwise restricted or revoked.

Apply for Open Air Burning Permit

When is outdoor burning NOT allowed?

  • The forecasted weather and air quality dictate when and if outdoor burning will be allowed. Fire weather information is obtained through the National Weather Service and updates from our local representatives from the Massachusetts Department Conservation & Recreation Division of Forest Fire Control. Air quality reports are provided by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. This information is reviewed daily and a decision is made each day on whether outdoor burning will be allowed.
  • If weather forecasts indicate dry conditions, low relative humidity, and high wind speed, any outdoor fire has the potential to spread rapidly. In these cases, outdoor burning will not be allowed.
  • If air quality forecasts are predicted to be poor based on reports from Mass DEP, outdoor burning will not be allowed.

When outdoor burning IS allowed

  • All Westford residents must have an open air burning permit PRIOR to engaging in any outdoor burning.
  • Permit holders MUST activate their burning permit on each day they intend to burn.
  • Permits can be activated between 8am and 10am online, or by calling the Westford Public Safety Communications Center @ 978-399-2345
  • Outdoor burning must begin between 10am & 12 pm.
  • All outdoor fires must be COMPLETELY extinguished by 4pm.

Activate Your Open Air Burning Permit

What CAN you burn?

  • Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris.
  • Agricultural materials such as fruit tree and bush prunings, raspberry stalks, and infected bee hives for disease control
  • Trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
  • Fungus infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available.

What CAN'T you burn?

  • Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from commercial and/or industrial land clearing operations
  • Grass, hay, leaves, stumps, and tires
  • Construction materials and debris

Safety Tips

Keep children and pets a safe distance away from any fire.Use gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
Maintain a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings.Leave fires unattended. An adult MUST be present AT ALL TIMES.
Use paper and kindling to start the fire and add progressively larger pieces of burning material.Delay calling the fire department should your permit fire get out of control
Keep piles small and manageable to prevent fires from getting out of controlWait until the end of the season to burn. When snow pack recedes before new growth emerges, dead grass and wood are dangerous tinder. April weather is unpredictable and often the worst month for brush fires, which often means there are many days where burning is not allowed.
Have a means to extinguish the fire at the ready. This includes a garden hose, a pressurized water fire extinguisher, or a pump water can, as well as shovels and rakes. 
Test your water supply BEFORE starting the fire to make sure it ready.
Watch for changes in the weather and be prepared to extinguish the fire if conditions rapidly change.
Try to complete all outdoor burning during the winter when the ground is snow covered.

Anyone conducting illegal burning or who allow a fire to get out of control could be held liable for the costs of extinguishing the fire in addition to revocation of their burning permit, fines, or imprisonment (M.G.L. c.48, s13) 

Visit the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services for more information on open burning safety tips and rules in Massachusetts.

Alternatives to Open Air Burning

  • Looking to dispose of a Christmas Tree? The Westford Firefighters Association does a Christmas tree pick-up fundraiser, typically the first weekend following the New Year. Visit their website for more information.
  • Westford Residents can visit the Westford Recycling Commission for more information and check out their "How to Recycle Most Everything" guide.

Apply for Open Air Burning Permit

Activate Your Open Air Burning Permit

How-To Guides

Applying for your Open Air Burning Permit Online

Activating you Open Air Burning Permit Online