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The original item was published from 6/16/2009 11:36:36 AM to 10/1/2009 12:00:05 AM.

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Posted on: June 16, 2009

[ARCHIVED] City Policy on Recreational Fires

Recreational fires or camp fires can be great family fun as long as a few basic rules are followed.

First, always be a good neighbor; be aware of wind direction. Your neighbor probably won’t be happy if their windows are open or if their clean laundry is on the line. The International Fire Code (IFC) which is adopted by the City of Dubuque requires recreational fires to be in an approved container or fire pit not to exceed 36”. All vegetation and combustible materials should be eliminated from the area prior to ignition. Fires must be at least 15 feet from any structure. The fire may not exceed 5 feet in height. The fire must be attended constantly by a responsible adult and extinguished at the end of the event. Have a portable fire extinguisher or other approved on site fire extinguishing equipment such as a garden hose, sand or dirt (with shovel) available for immediate utilization.

The City of Dubuque ordinance and the Dubuque Fire Department’s policy states that the fuel used must be strictly limited to charcoal products or natural growing form wood, dried, split or sawn to lengths no greater than 4 feet. No processed wood such as 2 x 4’s, plywood, building materials etc may be burned. Burning of papers, garden waste, rubbish, refuse, grass, leaves or brush is prohibited.

Atmospheric conditions should be such that smoke and gases are allowed to rise up and away. If smoke, gases and fire become a nuisance, the fire must be extinguished. All complaints will be directed to the Fire Department through the non-emergency phone number at the Dubuque Dispatch Center. A Fire Department representative will respond to complaints and make a determination as to whether the fire or smoke is a nuisance. There will be times when a legal fire may be required to be extinguished. Failure to comply with the above regulations can result in a Municipal Infraction with a fine and court cost that could reach $800 for the first offense.

If you have any questions, you can call the Dubuque Fire Department for clarification at 589-4160 or email

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