- Record low number of fires in 2013 -
Nashville – 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.
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.
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 1-800-762-3017.
For the number of Marshall and surrounding counties look on the WJJM Website or on
on the TDA’s Division of Forestry, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/forestry. For more information on safe debris burning, visit www.burnsafetn.org.
Obtaining a Burning Permit by Phone
Permits are free of charge and may be obtained by calling the phone number listed below for the county in which the burning will be done. Burning permits are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on holidays. Permits may be obtained in advance for weekends and holidays.
Bedford (877) 350-BURN (2876)
Giles (877) 350-BURN (2876)
Lincoln (877) 350-BURN (2876)
Marshall (931) 270-2244 or (877) 350-BURN (2876)
Rutherford (877) 350-BURN (2876)