NASHVILLE – The historic 2016 Tennessee fall fire season drastically brought attention to how wildfires burn our woods, especially when the state is under severe drought conditions. While the severity of the drought has been reduced this spring, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry remind Tennesseans that it is still important to remain cautious with any outdoor burning activities.
“As residents head outside to begin sprucing up their property, we remind them to be aware of outdoor-burning safety precautions,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Fire spreads quickly, igniting brush, trees, homes and belongings. By planning ahead and ensuring that burnings are conducted properly, you can help protect your property and your loved ones.”
If your spring cleaning plans include the burning of limbs, lumber and other debris, take the following precautions to make sure your outdoor burning is handled safely:
Check with your local fire department or municipality for any restrictions before starting an open air, recreational, or outdoor cooking fire. Obtain proper permits, if required. You might not be permitted to do outdoor burning in some municipalities and during some seasons.
In addition to notifying your local fire department, let neighbors know your plans to burn.
Closely supervise all outdoor fires. Make sure the fire is out before leaving.
Supervise children around any fire outdoors, including campfires, fire pits, chimineas, and outdoor fireplaces.
Permitted open fires (such as bonfires or trash fires) need to be at least 50 feet from anything that can burn.
Permitted recreational fires (such as campfires or fire pits) need to be at least 25 feet away from anything that can burn, including trees and overhanging branches. Never leave a campfire unattended. Extinguish your fire completely.
Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around burn piles.
Avoid burning on windy, dry days. When conditions are windy or dry, it is easy for open burning to spread out of control.
Where outdoor burning is allowed, never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids.
When burning, have a hose, bucket of water or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to extinguish the fire.
In the unfortunate event that a fire does get out of control, call 911 immediately and wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local fire department.
“Spring is a great time to clean up the yard and get rid of vegetative debris like leaves and branches,” said State Forester Jere Jeter. “However, it’s important that citizens stay safe and follow the law. Anyone who wants to burn that kind of debris must get a burning permit now through May 15.”
From October 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry. Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a half-inch mesh screen cover.
The permits can be obtained by calling your local Division of Forestry office between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Permits are generally good for 24 hours and can be issued for weekend burning. Permits can also be obtained online for small-scale burning of leaf and brush piles measuring less than 8 feet by 8 feet in area. The online system was developed to more efficiently issue permits to landowners conducting small-scale debris burns, and to provide better access through the weekend and evening hours for landowners.
These permits can be obtained on days and in counties where burn permits are allowed, by visiting http://BurnSafeTn.org. The website is also a good source of information for safe debris burning practices and fire prevention tips, including how to protect your home in the event of a wildfire.
Anyone needing to burn within an incorporated city should contact city authorities about any local burning ordinances. Many towns and cities have their own burning regulations that supersede the Division of Forestry’s burning permit program.
For information on what materials may NOT be burned in Tennessee, please visit the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Open Burning Guidelines: https://www.tn.gov/environment/article/apc-open-burning.
– See more at: https://www.tn.gov/news/50012#sthash.SJ6UOdYA.dpuf