Burn ban goes into effect on May 1
by Scott Wiltsee
April 27, 2013 12:00 AM | 5958 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Time is running out for residents who want to burn that pile of leaves or tree limbs cluttering up the yard. A five-month ban affecting most of the counties in north Georgia — including Cobb — goes into effect Wednesday, meaning that with the exception of recreational fires such as bonfires and campfires, all outdoor burning will be off-limits. From May 1 through Sept. 30 each year, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources prohibits burning leaves, tree limbs or other yard waste, burning forest land or using air curtain destructors for land clearing. The strict annual rules are not linked to drought conditions, which have eased in recent months, but to the prevention of increased air pollution during warmer months. “It’s not about the drought. It’s about air quality,” said Denise Croker, chief ranger for the Polk/Paulding/Cobb District of the Georgia Forestry Commission. “During the summer months, there’s not much movement in the air. The atmosphere doesn’t turn over and circulate like it does at other times.” That means that smoke from outdoor burning will basically get trapped and hover in the air, contributing to the sometimes already high pollution levels in the city. It is particularly bad on days when levels of ground-level ozone are high, making it harder to breathe, Croker said. The state-level rules affect 54 counties with some restrictions, including a total ban for 19 counties in the metro Atlanta area.

Some fires require a permit

Exempted from the summertime ban in Cobb County are small campfires less than 3 feet by 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high; larger bonfires with a permit from the fire marshal’s office; fires in barbecue grills or pits; or outdoor fireplaces. Campfires and bonfires are allowed with clean wood only. While the Georgia Forestry Commission often issues burn permits throughout Georgia, requests in Cobb are handled through the county fire department. For unincorporated areas of Cobb, as well as the cities of Acworth, Kennesaw and Powder Springs, Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services issues burn permits for residents. The Marietta Fire Department issues permits within the city limits.

Fire rules more specific in Cobb

Cobb Fire Marshal Jay Westbrook said the county’s outdoor burning rules are more comprehensive than those required by the state, with additional language incorporated from the International Fire Code. For example, any burning needs to have a charged water hose with a nozzle within 25 feet of the fire. “We’ve made some things more specific just so the citizens know what to expect,” Westbrook said. During months when the total burn ban is not in effect – Oct. 1 through April 30 – residents may burn small brush, leaves, pine straw and other types of yard waste without a permit, as long as the area being burned is smaller than 6 feet by 6 feet. Additional restrictions are place on location, time of day and wind conditions. For larger jobs, such as bonfires or large yard waste fires up to 12 feet by 12 feet, residents must obtain a permit from the county. Westbrook said for those jobs, the department will do a site inspection within five to seven days before issuing a permit. Burning household garbage or treated wood is prohibited throughout the year. For more information regarding the burning ban or air-quality control, visit the fire department’s website at www.cobbfire.org, or contact the Georgia Environmental Protection Division at 404-363-7000 or 404-362-2671.
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April 30, 2013
Please be mindful of this outdoor burning ban and be considerate of your neighbors. And if you see or are aware of fire burning call 911.
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