State Fire Marshal’s Office urges caution with outdoor burning

Burn-Safe_0NASHVILLE – The seasonable spring weather has sent Tennesseans outside to spruce up their properties. Because these maintenance efforts often include burning of tree limbs, lumber and other debris, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds homeowners to be aware of outdoor-burning safety precautions.

“Negligent outdoor burning can lead to death, injury, property loss and environmental damage,” Tennessee Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “We urge residents to take care and use all safety precautions.”

Here’s a checklist of precautions to ensure your outdoor burning plans are conducted properly:

·         Check with your local fire department or municipality for any restrictions before starting an open air, recreational, or outdoor cooking fire. Obtain proper permits, if required. Outdoor burning may not be permitted in some municipalities and during some seasons.

·         In addition to notifying your local fire department, inform neighbors about your outdoor burn.

·         Closely supervise all outdoor fires. Make sure the fire is out before leaving.

·         Supervise children around any fire outdoors, including campfires, fire pits, chimineas, and outdoor fireplaces.

·         Permitted open fires (such as bonfires or trash fires) need to be at least 50 feet from anything that can burn.

·         Permitted recreational fires (such as campfires or fire pits) need to be at least 25 feet away from anything that can burn, including trees and overhanging branches. Never leave a campfire unattended. Extinguish your fire completely.

·         Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around burn piles.

·         Avoid burning on windy, dry days. When conditions are windy or dry, it is easy for open burning to spread out of control.

·         Where outdoor burning is allowed, never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids.

·         When conducting an outdoor burn, have a hose, bucket of water or shovel and dirt or sand nearby to extinguish the fire.

·         In the unfortunate event that a fire does get out of control, call 911 immediately and wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local fire department.

burning-permit-requiredFrom October 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry. Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a half-inch mesh screen cover.

The permits can 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. Permits can also 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 was developed to more efficiently issue permits to landowners conducting small-scale debris burns, and to provide better access through the weekend and evening hours for landowners.

These permits can be obtained on days and in counties where burn permits are allowed, by visiting 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.

Woods FireAnyone needing to burn within an incorporated city should contact city authorities about any local burning ordinances. Many towns and cities have their own burning regulations that supersede the Division of Forestry’s burning permit program.

For more information on burning regulations, including how to obtain a burn permit, visit the Division of Forestry at

For information on what materials may NOT be burned in Tennessee, please visit the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Open Burning Guidelines:

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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