Burning Laws and Regulations

Texas falls under Simple Negligence rule which require the plaintiff to prove harm, causation and breach of a duty (i.e..fault). The standard for measuring whether or not a person is simply negligent is the reasonable prudent person. In general, the law imposes a duty on every person to behave as carefully as a reasonable, ordinary, prudent person would behave in a similar situation.

This publication is not large enough in scope to include all the laws, rule, and regulations concerning prescribed burning. Please check the listed websites for current information.

A Prescribed Burning Bill (HB 2599) was enacted in 1999 which guarantees the right of every landowner in the state the right to burn on his own property. The law also provided for a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager (CPBM) program to limit the liability of a landowner utilizing a CPBM unless the CPBM in the owner or an individual employed by the owner.

The Regulations:

The top tier of regulations come from Outdoor Burning Rules from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (www.tcew.state.tx.us/rules).

It is illegal to burn outdoors except for the following related to prescribed burning. This list is not all inclusive.

  1. Burning only 1 hour after sunrise and not after I hour prior to sunset.
  2. Wind speed must be forecast to be greater than 6 mph and less than 23 mph.
  3. Post someone to flag traffic if smoke is expected to cross a road or highway.
  4. Don’t start burning until inversion level has lifted.
  5. Special instructions for: Coastal areas, sensitive structures, and smoke sensitive areas such as roads.

One must also comply with other laws, regulations, or ordinances by counties or cities.

The county Government Code was also amended in 1999 to include the enforcement of burn bans in all or part of a county if enacted by the County Commissioners. A TDA Certified Prescribed Burn Manager (Commercial or Private) is exempt from this rule.