LAFOLLETTE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – As of Sunday, the Tennessee Division of Forestry is enforcing requiring burn permits. The Division protects the state’s forest resource through fire readiness, wildfire suppression, training volunteer firefighters, and combating arson.  During a crisis, Division employees work closely with volunteer firefighters and rescue squads.

There are typically two fire seasons.  The spring fire season, prompted by warming weather, begins about February 15 and ends near May 15th, when the forest has “greened up.”  Fall fire season begins October 15, when the leaves begin to fall and usually ends December 15th due to shorter, cooler, wetter days.  Still, wildland fires occur year round.  A burning permit is required for outdoor burning between October 15th and May 15th. However, a burn permit is required year round inside the City of La Follette.

Basic Fire Safety Guidelines for Outdoor Burning

Careless debris burning is a primary cause of wildfires every year in Tennessee. Wildfires result in enormous losses of natural resources, personal property and even lives.

Fire can be an effective tool when used properly. Even so, the best intentions can produce disastrous results when safety precautions are not taken. 

Consider Alternatives to Burning

Some types of debris – such as leaves, grass and stubble – may be of more value if they are not burned. Composting can yield valuable organic matter that can be used to enrich the soil while helping extend the useful life of landfills. In addition, tree branches, trunks, and brush can sometimes be chipped up and simply blown back into the woods or collected and hauled away. Other times, potential hazardous fuel near a structure can simply be drug back into the open woods where it poses no threat to structures. 

The following tips should be followed when it is safe to conduct a debris burn:

  • Check with local authorities to make sure there are no local restrictions on burning currently in place, especially in cities and towns that have their own burning permit system.
  • GET A PERMIT. A permit is required from the Tennessee Division of Forestry between October 15 to May 15 where local restrictions do not super cede.
  • Notify your local fire department and neighbors to let them know your plans to burn
  • Do not burn on windy days
  • Stay abreast of changing weather conditions
  • Establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around burn piles
  • Keep fire containment equipment on hand during the fire (e.g. rake, shovel, water)
  • Stay with the fire until it is completely out. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/16/2023-6AM)