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How to get an incinerator permit in East Tennessee

TENNESSEE (WATE) — As fall begins and the leaves begin to fall, it’s a good time to remember the rules surrounding the East Tennessee burn.

According to that Tennessee Forestry Department, debris burning is a leading cause of wildfires in the state each year. The department adds that fire can be a powerful tool when used properly, but the best of intentions can have disastrous results if safety precautions aren’t taken.

In between October 15th to May 15th, debris burning permits are required from the Department of Forestry for anyone wishing to start an outdoor fire within 500 feet of a forest, meadow or wooded area. According to the federal state, no permit is required for burning in containers such as metal drums with a ½” sieve cover.

Those wishing to burn within a city are advised to contact the city authorities for local burning ordinances. Because many cities have their own burning regulations that replace the forest department.

The Forestry Department offers the following tips for Carry out rubble fire safely:

  • Check with local authorities that there are no local restrictions on burning at this time.
  • Notify your fire department and neighbors to let them know of your fire plans
  • Do not burn on windy days
  • Pay attention to the weather conditions
  • Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least 1.50m wide around the burn piles
  • Have firefighting equipment ready during the fire
  • Stay until the fire is completely out.

To obtain a permit, click here or call (865) 429-7020.

If you wish to burn within the city limits of the following cities, you must contact their fire department for a permit instead of the Forestry Department.

  • Seville
  • pigeon forge
  • Gatlinburg
  • Knox County
    • click here
    • Open burning is prohibited within Knoxville city limits
  • Loudon
  • oak avenue
  • Maryville
  • Alcoa
  • Kreuzville
  • Greenville
  • kingston
  • Morristown

The Department of Forestry also has a dashboard that shows current burning bans within the state. The bans apply to all outdoor burning, including leaf and wood debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grilling, and other fire activities outside of communities where additional local ordinances apply. To view the dashboard, click here.

The Department of Forestry also offers some alternatives to burning, as some types of waste, including leaves, grass, and stubble, can be more valuable if not burned. Composting can produce valuable substances that can be used to enrich the soil. It can also help extend the useful life of landfills. In addition, branches, logs and brush can sometimes be shredded and blown back into the forest or collected and dragged away.

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