Follow this process if you are having health or nuisance problems caused by a neighbor's smoky appliance or recreational burning.
Give your neighbor a chance to be a ‘good’ neighbor
Most people are responsible and willing to help if asked in a polite, non-threatening manner.
Calmly tell your neighbor what the problem is. You may find that your neighbor is not aware that they are affecting your property or your health. Give them a copy of one of the following documents:
- Requirements for recreational fires — what must be done to start or maintain a recreational fire in all of Minnesota, which is a fire less than 3 foot in diameter and 2 foot high. Larger fires require an open burning permit from DNR.
- Best burn practices (US EPA)
- Proper installation and maintenance of a wood-burning heater (US EPA)
- If a newer unit is being considered, a list of EPA-certified wood-burning room heater models such as woodstoves, fireplace inserts, built-in wood heaters and wood pellet stoves, and for central heaters such as hydronic heaters, and forced-air furnaces.
Contact your local officials
If talking to your neighbors does not yield a satisfactory result, you may want to consider asking other neighbors for support if they are also concerned about emissions from wood burning.
Some townships, cities, and counties (in unincorporated areas) have zoning or public health nuisance ordinances that allow them to respond to wood smoke complaints. All recreational fires must be in compliance with fire safety requirements enforced by local fire departments. Some communities have adopted ordinances to restrict backyard recreational fires. For example, cities participating in the Green Step Cities program have passed wood smoke related ordinances. If this issue is perceived by the city or county to be a broad or ongoing problem, they may adopt an ordinance that addresses specific wood burning appliances or backyard fires.
Many Minnesota local governments have adopted ordinances addressing solid fuel heating devices such as outdoor wood furnaces (also known as boilers). Call your city or township to find out if there is an ordinance or code for these boilers. You can also direct them to MPCA's model ordinances.
Reach out to MPCA staff