Fire Code
Prevention & Outreach

Burn Permits

Do I need a burn permit to burn vegetation on my residential property?

Before performing any Open Burning in Currituck County learn North Carolina Open Burning regulations from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and North Carolina Forestry Service.

Residential Properties

No air quality permit is required for the open burning of leaves, logs, stumps, tree branches, or yard trimmings if the following conditions are met:

  1. The material burned originates on the premises of private residences and is burned on those premises.
  2. There are no public pickup services available.
  3. Non-vegetative materials, such as household garbage, lumber, or any other synthetic materials, are not burned.
  4. The burning is initiated no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and no additional combustible material is added to the fire between 6:00 P.M. on one day and 8:00 A.M. on the following day.
  5. The burning does not create a nuisance.
  6. Material is not burned when the North Carolina Forest Service has banned burning for that area.

The burning of logs or stumps of any size shall not be considered to create a nuisance for purposes of the application of the open burning air quality permitting exception described in this subsection.

NOTE: You can be fined up to $25,000 for illegal open burning in North Carolina

The state regulates open burning because it can cause serious health problems and pollute the air.  Only leaves, branches or other plant growth can be burned.

Illegal to Burn
  • Garbage, paper and cardboard
  • Tires and other rubber products
  • Building materials, including lumber, wire, plastics and synthetic materials
  • Asphalt shingles and heavy oils
  • Paints, household and agricultural chemicals

Open Burn permits may be obtained from the North Carolina Forestry Service.  The issuance of a burn permit does NOT relieve the permittee of responsibility for complying with all air pollution laws, regulations and ordinances, or damage caused to others. Good judgment and extreme caution should always be used.

Smoke Detectors

When it comes to fire safety in your home, fire extinguishers are valuable, but smoke detectors are essential.

The North Carolina State Residential Building Code requires all new one and two family dwelling units to have interconnected smoke alarms on each level and in each sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. They should not be placed within 3 feet horizontally from a bathroom door opening to a bathroom that contains a bathtub or shower.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA 72) has guidelines for installation requirements and manufacturer installation instructions follow these guidelines. The North Carolina State Residential Building Code also requires carbon monoxide alarm be placed outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms for homes that have an attached garage with an opening that communicates with the dwelling or fuel fire appliances.

Combination smoke alarms and carbon monoxide are acceptable to be used outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.

If you want the security of knowing your family is safe, you’ll need the peace of mind and protection a smoke alarm offers in the event of a fire.

Here are 10 interesting and important facts about smoke detectors so you can keep your family safe.
  • 1. There are different types of smoke alarms:

    There are 2 main types of smoke alarms:

    • Photoelectric smoke alarms: those that use photoelectric detection
    • Ionization smoke alarms: those that use an ionization for detection

    Ionization detectors are more common because they are generally mass produced and typically, it is an inexpensive unit, but the photoelectric detectors are fairly affordable as well.

    Ionization detectors are best at detecting flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are usually more sensitive to smoldering fires. The best idea is to either have a combination of the two types of alarms or find one smoke detection device that utilizes both types of detection.

    Code requirements for alarm types near cooking appliances per the North Carolina State Residential Building Code:

    Ionization smoke alarms shall not be installed less than 20 feet (6096 mm) horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance.

    Ionization smoke alarms with an alarm-silencing switch shall not be installed less than 10 feet (3048 mm) horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance.

    Photoelectric smoke alarms shall not be installed less than 6 feet (1828 mm) horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance.


    Keep smoke alarms 3 feet from HVAC air supplies, returns and ceiling fan blades.

    These created drafts that air current could interfere with the operation of the alarm.

  • 2. You should test your smoke alarm often

    Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month to ensure it is functioning properly.

    Most alarms have a test button. Simply hold the button for a few seconds and see if the unit’s alarm sounds. If you don’t hear it, or it is faint, it’s time to replace your batteries.

    Keep your family safe by remembering to check these life-saving devices regularly.

  • 3. You should change your batteries at least once a year

    If you don’t change your detector’s batteries, you’ll likely hear that annoying high-pitched periodic chirp until you do. While the sound is grating, it does an excellent job reminding you when the battery is low, and it is time for a fresh one.

    If you’re not sure whether or not the battery is dead, test it in a non-safety device.

    A good rule of thumb for battery replacement

    When in doubt, throw it out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. It never hurts to give your fire alarm a fresh new battery even if you aren’t sure if the last one is dead.

    When you replace the batteries, consider writing the date on the new battery with a permanent marker so when it dies, you can see how long it lasted and know approximately how long each battery will work in your particular alarm.

    Another popular way as a reminder is to change them every January 1st at the beginning of the New Year.

  • 4. You may need more smoke alarms than you currently have

    House fires can start anywhere and for the best protection,

    In older homes constructed before the building codes required smoke alarms it is a good idea to install a smoke detector in every bedroom and each hallway outside of sleeping areas.

    Every floor of your home should have a smoke detector.

    It is also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors outside of the sleeping rooms if you have fuel fired appliances or an attached garage.

  • 5. You may need to replace your smoke alarms

    Experts recommend you change your smoke alarms about every 10 years.

    When it comes to your family’s safety, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is functioning well and that you are using the latest technology to warn of fire danger.

  • 6. You should have interconnected smoke alarms

    If one alarm sounds, each unit in the home should also sound. If a fire broke out in the middle of the night on the main floor, you would want your family members sleeping in the basement to be alerted as soon as possible so they could quickly escape.

  • 7. It’s best to have a professional install your smoke alarms

    You don’t want to place your family’s well-being in the hands of just anyone. Get a trained professional to install your fire alarms correctly so you can rest assured they will function properly and alert your family in the event of a fire.

    Many local Volunteer Fire Departments have programs to assist home owners, contact your local Volunteer Fire Departments for more information.

    For more information contact one of Currituck County’s Fire Departments.

  • 8. Combination alarms are available

    Arguably even more dangerous than a fire is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and tasteless, yet extremely toxic, and therefore very dangerous.

    It is produced by vehicles and gas-powered furnaces and unsafe levels of it cause hundreds of deaths each year.

    If possible, look for a fire alarm that also includes a carbon monoxide detector.

  • 9. Some smoke alarms come with a monitoring team attached

    Avoid false alarms by looking for an alarm that automatically alerts a monitoring team when it sounds. This may come as part of a smart home security package with multiple products to protect your family.

    Having a little extra protection and instant professional help onboard never hurts.

  • 10. You should not paint your smoke alarm

    Most smoke alarms come with a warning printed directly on them that says “do not paint.”  Paint can restrict airflow and cause the alarm to have difficulty detecting a fire.