Burn Permits Required Through May 15

Monday, March 10, 2014

With spring drawing near, Tennesseans begin to take advantage of the mild weather to do some outdoor work around the home or farm. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry wants to remind citizens that if they are considering doing outdoor burning, a burn permit is required.

In 2013, the Division of Forestry recorded the lowest number of wildland fires since 1927. There were a total of 639 wildfires that burned 9,033 acres (lowest burned acreage was 7,110 in 2003). Increased efforts in fire prevention and suppression contributed to this record low, and landowners getting burn permits to conduct safe debris burning played a major role in that effort.

“We’re hoping to see a continuation of that trend this year and need our citizens’ help,” said state forester Jere Jeter. “Burning leaves and brush that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient way to get rid of such vegetation. However, it is very important that citizens practice safe outdoor burning. Obtaining a burn permit in advance of outdoor burning is our way of making the public aware of those recommendations and helping them know when, where, and how it is safe to burn.”

The free burn permits are required in all areas of the state by law until May 15 unless otherwise covered by local ordinances. Residents should check with their city and county government for any local restrictions. 

Permits can 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 provides permit access through the weekend and after-work hours for landowners. These permits can be obtained on days and in counties where burn permits are allowed by visiting www.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.

The permits can also 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. Phone numbers for each office can be found in the state government section of your local phone book, or by visiting www.burnsafetn.org.

More than 377,000 permits were issued last year for outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste, and burning to clear land. The volume of requests on any given day can be high and callers may experience a delay. The online burn permit system is an alternative for small debris piles.

Once a burn permit is obtained, debris burners should practice common sense while conducting a burn. This includes: 

  • Establish a control line around the fire, down to bare soil before conducting the burn.
  • Notify neighbors and local fire departments in advance as a courtesy.
  • Have tools on hand such as a leaf rake and garden hose or bucket of water to help control the fire.
  • Watch for changing weather conditions as winds can blow the fire in the wrong direction.
  • Always stay with your fire until it is completely out. It is not only the smart thing to do, but it is also illegal to leave an open fire unattended.

Despite the low number of fires in 2013, escaped debris burns were still the leading cause of wildfires in Tennessee last year accounting for 243 fires that burned nearly 1,600 acres. The Division’s burn permit system has dramatically helped reduce the numbers of escaped burns since the program began in 1995. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50.  

Wildfires caused by arson were the second leading cause last year, but accounted for the largest acreage, burning nearly 5,400 acres. Wildland arson is a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 800 762-3017.

For more information on the TDA’s Division of Forestry, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/forestry. For more information on safe debris burning, visit www.burnsafetn.org.


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: TN Aquarium Adventure Canoe on S. Chick Creek June 25 Join Outdoor Chattanooga and the TN Aquarium for a Canoe Adventure on Sat., June 25 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dr. Bernie Kuhajda of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) and Outdoor Chattanooga's guide staff will lead this one-of-a-kind canoeing ... (click for more)

Lula Lake Land Trust Changes Nonprofit Filing Status

Lula Lake Land Trust announced on Friday that it has changed its IRS nonprofit 501(c)(3) filing status from private foundation to public charity. Lula Lake Land Trust continues to operate as a tax exempt charitable organization with the best interests of Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga in mind. “Going from private foundation to public charity will help us grow and be a vital ... (click for more)

County Commission Gives Up Fight On $900,000 In Discretionary Funds

County Commission members have given up the fight for the annual $900,000 in discretionary funds. Commission Chairman Chester Bankston said there was not enough money available after requests from a number of agencies and departments were cut to balance the budget without a tax increase. Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said the fact that commissioners can no longer allot the ... (click for more)

Bridge Repair Over 12th Street To Cause Temporary Lane Closure On US 27

While investigating a pothole in the existing bridge on U.S. 27 North over 12 th Street in the construction zone, crews discovered a potential weak spot in the bridge deck that could over time result in more damage to the bridge deck.  For the safety of the traveling public, the outside lane in this area will be closed until the contractor makes necessary repairs, TDOT ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (2)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What You Leave Behind

Randy Travis, one of the best at singing country songs that has ever been, had a song about three people who got killed when an 18-wheeler missed a stop sign. There was a farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher on this bus and Randy tells us: “One's headed for vacation, one for higher education, An' two of them were searchin' for lost souls.” In that wonderful song, the ... (click for more)