Are bonfires allowed in Atlanta?

A natural instinct when the temperature drops is to build a fire. But if you live in Atlanta’s city limits, just don’t do it outside.

Open burning is strictly prohibited, Atlanta Fire Rescue spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said in an email. The city will not issue bonfire permits for events because “embers, flames, and the possibility of it getting out of control” combined with “the proximity of buildings and homes” creates too great of a risk, Stafford said.

According to city code: “The burning of construction debris, organic debris from stumps, branches, and other land clearing efforts and any and all other outdoor burning, other than cooking fires, is prohibited within the city limits."

Stafford did not quote a specific penalty for having a bonfire or unapproved outside burning — each situation is looked at “case by case,” he said.

People may have recreational fires in appropriate chimineas, outdoor fireplaces or fire pits on their property, as long as they are contained and not burning freely. In those cases, firefighters request that a fire extinguisher or bucket of water is kept near by.

Bonfire rules are different throughout metro Atlanta. For instance, bonfires sponsored by civic, educational, religious or other groups in Gwinnett County may file for a free permit to hold bonfires.

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