Beginning Monday, September 23, 2019, a burn permit will be required to start an open air fire within five hundred feet (500’) of any forest, grassland or woodland
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is keeping a close eye on weather conditions as our state experiences a prolonged hot and dry pattern. Fortunately, we have not seen an increase in the number of wildfires over the past few weeks. Fire danger indices that we routinely monitor remain in low to moderate status. While these metrics are positive, we certainly recognize municipal and county concerns with the weather and appreciate the cooperation with managing expectations of our residents and visitors in wildfire prevention. We also recognize local governments are responding to these conditions, and we want to support them as best we can. As such, in addition to continued monitoring and initial attack as needed, we want to make you aware of our short-term strategy as we prepare to enter our usual fall fire season.
Elements of this strategy include:
1. Increased fire prevention messaging
2. Early launch of our Safe Debris Burn Permitting system beginning Monday, September 23
3. Providing county governments with tools we have available with assisting them; including instructions for implementing a Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Ban (typically implemented on a county level) Fire Prevention Messaging Broadcast news outlets are already well aware of municipal burn restrictions and are actively connecting weather forecasts with fire danger.
Our agency is reminding citizens to use precaution and good sense when burning outdoors where it is allowed. We encourage our partners to direct citizens to BurnSafeTN.org for safe debris burning tips and fire weather information links. We also have targeted print, radio, TV and online messaging prepared for fall fire season that promotes safe debris burning and encourages homeowners to protect their homes through the Firewise USA program.
We are also actively working with communities within the Fire Adapted Communities program to build partnerships that inform and prepare residents to collaboratively plan and take action to safely co-exist with wildland fire.
Early Launch of State Burn Permitting While current fire danger indices remain low to moderate, this hot and dry weather pattern has potential to create more volatile conditions as we enter fall fire season when our hardwood forests shed their leaves and create a heavier fuel load on the ground. In an effort to get ahead of this threat, I am utilizing Tennessee Wildfire Law 39-14-306 to prescribe a period outside of our typical requirement for setting open air fires without a permit.
Beginning Monday, September 23, 2019, a burn permit will be required to start an open air fire within five hundred feet (500’) of any forest, grassland or woodland. Permits, if issued on any given day, will be available by phone or online at BurnSafeTN.org. Safe Debris Burn Permits have proven to be an effective tool at making residents aware of when, where, and how it is safe to conduct a debris burn.
If conditions are not conducive for safe debris burning, we will not issue permits. It is important to note that this action does not equate to a burn ban. Burning without a permit is a burn restriction that has legal ramifications – specifically, a violation is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a 30 day sentence and/or $50 fine.