Record low number of fires in 2013
Nashville, TN – 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 15th 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 8:00am to 4:30pm. 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.
- 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.
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.
Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry
The Division, which is celebrating their 100th anniversary as a state agency this year, works to conserve, protect and enhance forests that cover half the state and provide jobs, timber, clean water, wildlife habitat and recreation.
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 8:00am to 4:30pm, except on holidays. Permits may be obtained in advance for weekends and holidays.
Bedford: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Cheatham: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Clay 243 and 258 exchanges call 931.823.6538; 699 exchanges call 615.666.4111
Cumberland: 931.788.5538 or: 931.484.4548
Davidson No debris burning allowed; visit nashfire.org for more information.
Dekalb: W. of Caney Fork R.),: 615.597.4015: E. of Caney Fork R.),: 931.839.2328
Dickson: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Giles: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Hamilton East:: 423.478.0337, West:: 423.332.3228
Hardin: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Hickman: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Houston: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Humphreys: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Knox: 865.215.5900 Air Poll. Cont.
Lawrence: 931.766.1413 or: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Lewis: 931.796.2721 or: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Lincoln: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Madison No TDA permit needed, call local fire dept first
Marshall: 931.270.2244 or: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Maury: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Montgomery: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Moore: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Perry: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Polk: 423.338.8395 for Benton area,: 423.496.4339 for Ducktown area
Robertson: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Rutherford: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Scott: 423.569.4175 or: 423.627.2250
Shelby Municipal permit required; call local fire dept first
Stewart: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Sumner: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Van Buren: 931.946.2401
Wayne: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Williamson: 877.350.BURN (2876)
Wilson: 877.350.BURN (2876)