All About Burn Bans in North Dakota


Under North Dakota state law, either the Governor or individual counties (county emergency managers and/or county commissions) decide whether to impose a burn ban. They may request weather information and forecasts from the National Weather Service, but the Weather Service does not recommend whether a ban should be put into effect. County officials may also request rangeland conditions from the U.S. Forest Service or other state/federal/local agencies to help in their decision-making.

Burn bans may be declared by the county emergency manager or the county commission. Burn bans declared by county emergency managers are in effect for seven days, after which the county commission must decide whether to continue the ban another 7 days or “until further notice.”

Restrictions and prohibitions in effect for a burn ban vary from county to county – and perhaps from week to week. The public should contact the County Division of Emergency Services or county sheriff for detailed restrictions and prohibitions.

The RFD (Rangeland Fire Danger Statement) issued each day by the Weather Service’s Bismarck weather forecast office does not take into consideration any burn bans that may be in effect.  The RFD reflects daily weather conditions such as high temperatures, cloud cover, afternoon dewpoints (relative humidity) and wind speed, as well as percent green of open rangeland.  Click this link to see how the RFD is made. Open rangeland includes open grasslands and pastures, but does not include cultivated farmland.  Should the RFD index rise into the “very high” or “extreme” category, certain county burning restrictions and prohibitions will be in effect.  These restrictions are located in the “North Dakota Rural Fire Danger Guide.”  This guide can be viewed on the DES website:

            ND State Department Of Emergency Services Fire Dange Guide

A Red Flag Warning or Fire Weather Watch is issued for weather conditions that could sustain extensive fire activity.  These two National Weather Service products are issued to alert federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the general public, of the potential for explosive fire growth should a fire ignite.  They are generally in effect for a day or two, depending on daily weather conditions. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.