Get information about B.C's Ventilation Index and the rules on open burning.
On this page
- Understand the Ventilation Index
- Understand smoke sensitivity zones
- Ventilation Index resources
- Open burning rules
- Custom venting forecasts
Before you burn, you must check the Ventilation Index which changes daily based on:
- The location in the province
- The atmospheric conditions
The Ventilation Index is a forecast released daily by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
It estimates how well the atmosphere disperses smoke on any given day.
The index is similar to a weather forecast, except it provides information on how well smoke will mix into the air.
To predict ventilation, the index uses both:
- The mixing height of the atmosphere
- This means, how high smoke will rise
- The wind speed
With a higher mixing height and sufficient wind speeds, smoke should disperse and not impact neighbours.
The forecast is broken down into Good, Fair and Poor ventilation.
To start a burn in most populated areas of the province, a Ventilation Index of Good is required.
Often in the winter, there are long periods of time where the ventilation index is Poor. During these times, please be patient and check conditions daily. More favourable ventilation is often seen in the fall and spring or ‘shoulder’ seasons of burning.
Before burning, you also need to check the open burning rules.
The province is broken into zones that are based on where the most people live.
They are high, medium and low.
The rules you need to follow are different depending on what zone you're in.
To learn more, review the smoke sensitivity zone maps.
Forecast and smoke sensitivity zone interactive map
Access the Ventilation Index Forecast and Smoke Sensitivity Zone Interactive Map for the current ventilation forecast and find out if you can burn today at your location.
It's the combination of ventilation forecast and smoke sensitivity zone at your location that determines:
- If you can burn
- How long you can burn
The Ventilation Index Forecast Widget allows an organization's website to share an up-to-date forecast for their chosen zone.
Find out how to add this widget to your website.
View a static map of Ventilation Index Zones (PDF, 292KB) to determine what zone you live in.
For historical reports, visit the ventilation index archive.
- Before burning, check the BCWS Fire Bans and Prohibitions
- Other outdoor burning rules are in the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation
A custom ventilation forecast predicts how smoke and other pollutants may spread in a specific area.
A custom ventilation forecast can be used in place of the Ventilation Index forecast for open burning in B.C.
For burning that's regulated by the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation (OBSCR), you need to have either:
- The Environment Canada Ventilation Index forecast from the day of the burn or,
- A custom ventilation forecast for the area where burning is planned
The ventilation conditions required to start or continue burning are described in the OBSCR All Burners Factsheet (PDF, 96KB).
How to get a custom forecast
For a custom ventilation forecast to be valid under OBSCR, it must be provided by a custom ventilation forecaster and submitted to the ministry via the email OBSCRCVF@gov.bc.ca.
For custom ventilation forecaster credentials, please review the definition listed in the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation.
Here's a list of custom ventilation forecasters:
- Email Rob Pigott of Enviro BC
- Email Christina Van Eaton of West Coast Weather Services
- Email Brian Proctor
- Email Greg Pearce
The turnaround time for a request is 2 to 3 business days.