Wildfires, including on carbon-rich peatlands, continue to haunt Indonesia every dry season. They have disastrous health, economic, environmental, and climate consequences. As a key measure to manage wildfires, laws strictly prohibit the burning of land and forests, targeting corporate and individual fire users. The literature suggests that weak law enforcement contributes to Indonesia's persistent wildfires but it lacks systematic analysis. Centred on villagers, this research examines 1) how enforcement of the burning prohibition plays out in practice, by analysing each step along the enforcement chain, and 2) how enforcement has shaped villagers' compliance with the fire rules, and implications for them. We interviewed villagers and enforcement agents and analysed court documents of the year 2019 fire cases. We focused on two fire-prone provinces with extensive peatlands, South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan. We found that some villagers have complied and ceased burning, while others have continued to use fire to maintain their livelihoods. Enforcement contributed to fire prevention, but may have also increased fire risks thus limiting the prevention effect. A multitude of challenges, including physical obstacles, resource constraints, and governance reduced enforcement effectiveness. Key to enforcement is legitimacy of the rule being enforced from the perspective of both enforcement agents and target actors. Investments are required to support viable alternative no-burning cropping methods. At the same time, public awareness raising and long-term education are essential for accidental fire prevention and the reduction of overall enforcement costs.