The state today lifts the summer burn ban and local departments are stressing the importance of fire safety.
“With anything, anytime you are allowed to do burning just because you can doesn’t mean you necessarily should,” Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap said. “Obviously, during this time of year, we have the leaves that are starting to fall and all of the things that accompany that and it does help for the cleanup, but we urge people to use some common sense.”
Although the ban has lifted, residents must obtain a burning permit for hand-piled vegetation.
Permits are required for burning all hand-piled natural vegetation, including leaf piles on the premises on which they fall, and vegetative debris disposal from storm damage, weed abatement, disease or pest prevention. Permits can be obtained online through the Georgia Forestry Commission or by calling 1-877-OK2-BURN. Burn permits are valid only for the day issued. If you obtain a permit after dark, the permit will be good for the following day.
According to the commission, fires should not be begin before 8 a.m. and should be completely extinguished before dark. If burning machine-piled natural vegetation — not with an Air Curtain Destructor — or conducting an area burn, contact the local office of the Georgia Forestry Commission.
It is unlawful to burn manmade materials such as tires, shingles, plastics, lumber, household garbage, etc., according to the agency’s website.
“We have limitations on the size of the piles being 6 [feet] by 6 [feet], can’t be near a structure, things of that nature, have to have an extinguishment source. There’s a whole host of those things that go with it. As long as people are doing things correctly and are staying with the stuff and using common sense to it, we can be safe. But, by all means, if it doesn’t have to be burned, let’s not burn it,” Millsap said. “Oftentimes, you can mulch that stuff up and still have the same purpose of it being gone and actually do better for your flowers and things like that.”
Next week, the city of Cartersville will recognize Fire Prevention Week. With the theme “Prevent Kitchen Fires!,” Oct. 6-12 will serve to remind residents to check kitchens for fire hazards and to practice safe cooking practices.
According to the proclamation, home fires killed more than 2,500 people in 2011 with two in every five fires beginning in the kitchen. Residents should have a planned and practiced home fire escape plan, the document stated.
Cartersville Fire Marshal in a press release said the holiday season from November to January accounts for a large percentage of residential structure fires, and most of those occur in the kitchen.
“Don’t allow yourself to be distracted when you are cooking,” he said in the release. “If you must leave the kitchen, carry something with you as a reminder.”
Millsap said the seasonal changes drive home the importance of fire prevention and education.
“The rains have stopped somewhat. Give that, as the leaves start to fall and everything, our risk of fire does go up,” he said. “There’s a nice breeze blowing today and that has a tendency to help those things to spread. Anytime you start having that greater inclination for burning, you know, the wanting to be outside, wanting to have the campfires, wanting to have those marshmallow fires for that fall weather that comes up and the grilling ..., it drives all that home.”
For more information on the Georgia Forestry Commission or burn permits, visit http://www.gfc.state.ga.us. For more on fire prevention and safety, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov or call the Cartersville Fire Prevention Division at 770-387-5635 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.