Burning & Controlled Burns

A "controlled" or "prescribed" burn is a planned fire used as a conservation method to help restore prairie vegetation by controlling weeds and recycling nutrients to encourage stronger native plant growth.  Rules and boundaries of the burn must take into account the following:

  • The safety of the general public
  • Weather conditions
  • If the objective(s) of the burn will be met

The Fire Department needs to be contacted PRIOR to beginning any burning or controlled burn. Please call 217-324-8171.

Burn Contractors & Permits 

Burns are carried out by a trained and equipped prescribed burn contractor.  Burn permits are secured through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upon review of a written burn plan specific to each site.  A copy of the plan must be filed with the local fire department, and the local fire department will be notified before and after completion of the prescribed burn on the day of the burn.

Burn Season

Spring and fall are the two primary seasons for burning. 

  • Spring burn season typically runs from early March through mid-April.  
  • Fall burn season is typically performed shortly following the first killing frost from approximately late October to the first snowfall in early December. 

Conditions for a Burn

Appropriate conditions must be present for a controlled burn, which can make it difficult to schedule a burn more than one day in advance.  These include atmospheric conditions such as:

  • Chance of precipitation
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Wind speed and direction.  All these factors make it difficult to schedule a burn to no more than one day in advance.  

Burn Considerations

  • The burn contractor should make all attempts to minimize smoke drift whenever possible.  Prairie fires usually burn fast and smoke usually dissipates quickly. 
  • The fire should be contained around the perimeters of the prescribed burn areas by prior mowing, use of wet lines (spraying the vegetation along the edge with water), or back-burning.  

Burn Ordinance

Read the full Burn Ordinance for the City of Litchfield.