City of Watertown Outdoor Burning- Recreational 
Rules and Regulations

Section 303-12, “Outdoor burning restrictions””




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A.         Outdoor burning prohibited. No person shall cause, allow or permit outdoor burning of refuse, garbage, plant life or other combustible material within the City, except as permitted under Subsection C.




B.         Incinerators prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate and maintain or cause to be operated and maintained any incinerator within the City, except as permitted under Subsection C.




C.        Exceptions.


(1)        Outdoor burning in connection with the preparation of food.


(2)        The burning of refuse in a properly designed, operated and maintained incinerator, duly licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to be effective for the purpose of air pollution control, or outdoor burning by the City of Watertown pursuant to a permit by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


(3)        Small outdoor flames for welding, acetylene torches, safety flares, heating tar or similar applications.


(4)        Any outdoor burning which is necessary and not contrary to the interests of public health; or when the fire is a campfire, used solely for recreational purposes or for ceremonial occasions.


(5)        A fire set for the purpose of training public or private firefighting personnel.


(6)        A fire set or required by a public officer for the abatement of nuisances and which is necessary in carrying out public health functions.


D.        Responsibilities of the property owner for any outdoor fires occurring under Subsection C. on their property:


(1)        To adhere to all health and fire prevention codes.


(2)        To have adult (18 years of age or older) supervisory personnel present at the site of the outdoor burning.


(3)        Any fire deemed to be a public health nuisance by the Fire Chief or his or her designee shall be extinguished.


(4)      No manufactured device shall be placed on any combustible surface.   “Manufactured device” means a device whose sole purpose and design is used to contain a fire for recreational purposes, i.e. burn pit or burn ring.


(5)        The fire must be completely extinguished before the fire location may be left unsupervised.


(6)        The fire shall be no larger than three feet in diameter.  A fire exceeding the size restrictions may be permitted for churches, organized schools, and civic organizations and only if applications for site review has been made and approved by the Watertown Fire Department.  Such a fire shall not be more than 10 feet in diameter or an area of more than 10 feet by 10 feet.  The height shall be a maximum of 6 feet.


(7)        No flammable liquids shall be used to start or support the burning.


(8)        Only virgin wood and charcoal fuel will be allowed to be burned. "Virgin wood" means wood and other wood products, such as bark, but not to include sawdust, which have had no chemical treatments or finishes applied.


(9)        Under no circumstances shall plastics, trash, garbage, oils, hydrocarbon fuels, furniture, fabrics, leaves, yard waste, synthetic materials of any kind, pressure-treated wood or wood that has been finished with paints, varnishes, laminates or a similar finish be burned.


(10)      The fire shall be located at least 10 feet from property lines and at least 20 feet from any building or structure. This does not apply to manufactured devices installed to the manufacturers’ specifications.


(11)      A functional extinguishing aid must be present, such as a fire extinguisher, garden hose, etc.


E.         Emergency provisions. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Fire Chief, in times of extreme dryness or drought, deficiency in the water supply or by reason of any other emergency, is authorized to prohibit the setting of any fires upon any lands within the City by providing published notice of the declared emergency and the scope of the declaration in the local newspaper on the date that the emergency is declared to begin and by providing published notice broadcast through local radio or cable television.