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Neighborhood Services E-newsletter

Wood Smoke Complaints

Wood smoke can be very impactful. If you burn, outdoors or indoors, please be mindful of your neighbors and monitor your wood smoke emissions. Smoke can be reduced by burning a hot fire, not letting a fire smolder, or by extinguishing the fire.

Neighborhood Services receives wood smoke complaints year round. In the summer months, the complaints are typically from outdoor burning whether in a fire pan, dug in pit, or chiminea. In the colder months, the smoke tends to come from indoor fireplaces and stoves.


When a complaint is received, Neighborhood Services sends a letter either to the house creating the smoke or to a larger neighborhood area if the exact location is unknown. The letter is strictly educational and outlines the following rules and guidelines for burning.


  • Any burning of construction material, yard waste, agricultural material, or trash is illegal.
  • Accepted fuels are limited to charcoal and clean, dry wood.
  • Backyard recreational burning and “campfires” cannot be greater than three feet in diameter or two feet in height.
  • Portable outdoor fireplaces must be operated not less than 15 feet from any combustible construction or overhangs.
  • The fire must be constantly attended by an adult who can intervene in case of emergency.
  • A garden hose connected to a patent water supply, or a fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 4-A, shall be immediately available to the user of the appliance.
  • If in the opinion of fire department personnel, the fire or its byproducts are causing a hazardous condition, they are authorized to order the extinguishment of such a fire.
  • The Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) will respond if a homeowner is experiencing significant smoke at their home or if they have a safety concern about a fire or the use of an outdoor wood burning appliance.
  • The PFA non-emergency number is 970-416-2600.


  • Burn only clean, dry wood in a small hot fire. It is illegal to burn trash, which includes cardboard, plastic, newspaper, office paper, and treated wood.
  • After the first 15 minutes of start up, City Code requires the smoke from your chimney not exceed “20% opacity” (smoke should be only slightly visible when looking at it with your back to the sun).
  • The installation of a fireplace or wood burning stove or insert requires the owner to obtain a building permit through Building Services.
  • Neighborhood Services may also check if a building permit was pulled for any stove installation and may have a code inspector drive by to check for the 20% opacity.
  • If you have a stove, it is possible that it pre-dates the EPA-certified approved stoves available today. If so, it is even more critical to monitor your burning practices.
  • Consider replacing or removing your wood burning unit.

More Information

The City of Fort Collins offers an Air Quality Loan Program to help you replace wood burning units. You may be eligible to borrow up to $3,000. For more information on wood burning and air quality please see

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