Decode the code: Outdoor cooking, bonfires, and burning in Tarrant County

Bookmark these local guidelines for the next time you’re hosting a cookout or clearing brush on your property.


Just because the sunset lights Fort Worth on fire, doesn’t mean you have to.

Table of Contents

Is something burning? This hot guide to bonfire regulations is fire — if we do say so ourselves.

The weather has cooled off and it makes us want to gather around the campfire and roast some marshmallows — now that we won’t be sweating to death. Before you schedule your cozy winter bonfire, keep reading for local regulations and safety tips.

Who’s in charge?

Outdoor burning and cooking regulations are governed by the Tarrant County Fire Marshal and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. These organizations set the guidelines for both incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county.

However, the highest authority is good old Mother Nature. Keep an eye on updates from the Texas A&M Forest Service and the National Weather Service about ongoing droughts.

With fall rain showers, the ban on outdoor burning has been lifted, so it’s a good time to clear out some brush.


Chestnuts marshmallows roasting on an open fire...

Video by Giphy

Outdoor burning

Burning brush is only allowed in unincorporated areas of Tarrant County — outside of Fort Worth city limits.

Call Tarrant County Regional Communications on the day you plan to burn for approval + contact the Fire Marshal’s office to conduct a prescribed burn.

Things to remember

  • You must be present at all times during the burn.
  • Burning is only allowed during daylight hours.
  • Keep an eye on the smoke and don’t light a fire if the wind speed is over 23 mph.

Allowed materials include brush, tree limbs, grass clippings, leaves, and household trash from your own property. Prohibited materials include construction materials, tires, heavy oils, chemical waste, or anything hauled to the site.

Outdoor cooking

Who doesn’t love a barbecue? Cooking outside is allowed across the county, but keep these safety tips in mind.

  • Locate your grill, firepit, or smoker on concrete, gravel, or dirt
  • Move your fire source at least five feet from combustible materials and 10 feet from your house, especially in multi-family residential units.
  • Have water nearby in case of emergencies.

Upcoming reminders

While lighting your dried Christmas tree on fire is a quick way to get rid of it, it can be risky. Recycle it instead.

If you want to celebrate the end of the year with a blaze of glory, remember that fireworks are only allowed in unincorporated areas of Tarrant County.