Georgia’s annual ban on outdoor burning was lifted Sept. 30, allowing residents to burn outdoor debris with a permit, just in time for residents to tackle falling autumn leaves and other outdoor natural materials.
The ban, which runs from May 1 to Sept. 30, is imposed during the summer to comply with Federal clean air standards.
Rockdale County Fire Department deputy Fire Chief Mike Lee gave a few precautionary rules of thumb to follow. "Stay with the fire; make sure you have a means to control it, preferably water or a garden hose. Burn only in daylight hours," he said. "And make sure you get a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission."
The Georgia Forestry Commission implemented a new 24-hour burn permitting process allows users to click through a simple online template at GaTrees.org that analyzes weather conditions, records user requests, and issues a numbered permit for use that day when conditions are safe. Permits issued after dark are valid the following day. Residents who prefer to phone in their requests may still utilize 1-877-OK2-BURN (1-877-652-2876).
“The new automated system saves time for our customers who use the same computer to request permits,” explained Chief of Forest Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission Alan Dozier. “The system ‘remembers’ the customer, and pulls up their previously entered data, which speeds the process.” Dozier said communities also benefit from the new system because it provides information about the location of permitted area burns and contact information for those in charge.
Permits are required for burning all natural vegetation that is hand piled, including leaf piles on the premises where they fall, and vegetative debris from storm damage, weed abatement, disease and/or pest prevention. It is unlawful to burn all man-made materials such as tires, shingles, plastic and lumber. Failure to secure a valid burn permit may result in penalties. If an unpermitted
fire escapes and causes wildfire, suppression charges will be levied. The average suppression charge is $200.
Dozier noted that with mild to moderate drought conditions spreading across Georgia, extra caution will be necessary for anyone planning to burn outdoors. Fire safety tips and information about Georgia’s forest resource, visit GaTrees.org.