The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry is reminding citizens to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires and obtain a debris burn permit for leaf and brush piles. The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.
“With the recent and forecasted rain, we expect favorable conditions for safe debris burning in the short term,” State Forester David Arnold said. “However, we shouldn’t let our guard down. We encourage Tennesseans to remain vigilant, practice safe debris burning and get a permit to prevent wildfires.”
Debris burn permits for leaf and brush piles are available online at no charge. For larger, broadcast burning, such as forestry, agricultural and land clearing, call your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Mon. through Fri., 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The online system for permits and phone numbers can be found at www.BurnSafeTN.org.
Permits are issued only when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you live inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municipality before you burn.
A list of materials that may not be burned can be found in the open burning guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, and you may remain anonymous. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction. To report illegal burning, call 1-888-891-TDEC.
The Division of Forestry protects Tennessee’s forests by fighting wildfires, coordinating all hazard emergency response, providing prescribed fire guidance and contract services, as well as wildland fire training, in addition to promoting the wise use of forest resources by assisting landowners, providing quality seedlings, monitoring insects and diseases, improving urban forests, managing state forests, protecting water quality, and collecting forest inventory data. The Division also works to promote primary and secondary forest industries to stimulate the state’s economy.
Burning within the city limits of Tullahoma requires a permit year-round. The permit can be found on the city’s website, provided burning is allowed that day. If conditions are not safe, permits will not be offered. The Tullahoma Fire Department posts on its Facebook page each day whether or not burn permits will be issued that day.
To get the permit, burners must agree to only burn natural, non-manmade products; not burn more than three cubic yards at a time without prior inspection by the fire department; have a water source available, stay with the fire, completely extinguish the fire by 4 p.m. and not begin burning until 9 a.m.
To report illegal burning or to schedule an inspection of a burn pile call the Tullahoma Fire Department at 455-0936.