Open Burning Rules for Georgia
Open burning, as defined in Georgia’s Rules for Air Quality (391-3-1-.01(tt)), is any outdoor fire from which the products of combustion are emitted directly into the outdoor air without passing through a stack, chimney, or duct. Such burning releases smoke and oxides of nitrogen into the outdoor air, and these pollutants have a negative impact on Georgia’s air quality. Georgia EPD’s Air Protection Branch created and issued Georgia’s Open Burning Rule (391-3-1-.02(5)) to promote public safety and air quality benefits.
13 Legal Burn Types
Open burning in the State of Georgia is prohibited with the exception of 13 types of legal burn activities. In some counties, depending on historical air quality, time of year, and population, fewer than 13 types of burn activities are allowed. Note that the burning of garbage or lumber, even in a burn barrel, is illegal at all times.
There are heightened air quality concerns regarding the formation of ground-level ozone in the summer months of May through September in 54 counties . The number of legal burn types in these counties is therefore limited to 5 (or in some cases 6) of the 13 types during the summer. To learn more about this restriction, view the Summer Burn Ban page.
Counties which are subject to the Summer Burn Ban (see above) and which have populations over 65,000 are limited to 9 of the 13 burn types during the balance of the year (October 1 – April 30). This is due to a year-round air quality concern regarding fine particle pollution. The burn types allowed in these counties during these months are 1 through 7, 10, 12, and 13. Click here for a map of the affected counties.
Requirement for Burn Permit
Any type of open burning in Georgia requires a permit, with the exception of acceptable agricultural burning. Burn permits are now required for the operation of an Air Curtain Destructor. To obtain a permit, simply call 1-877 OK2BURN or obtain one online at: http://www.gatrees.org/OnlinePermits/. The online burn permit website is provided and maintained by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC). The site provides burn permits and will also provide information about any additional local burn restrictions.
Air Curtain Destructors
Burning for the purpose of land clearing must use an air curtain destructor (ACD) subject to the requirements of Georgia EPD’s open burning rule. An operating permit from EPD is not required, but a burn permit must be obtained from GFC when operating an ACD. An internet or yellow pages search will help locate local companies that rent ACDs. Click here to view ACD Operating Guide and Procedures.
Prescribed burning is one of the burn types that is allowed under the Open Burning Rule. Uses of prescribed burning include maintenance and protection of commercial timber stands, land clearing for agriculture, the reduction of vegetative fuels for wildfire prevention, and the management of fire-dependent ecosytems. Prescribed burning is defined in the Open Burning Rule as “the controlled application of fire to existing vegetative fuels under specified environmental conditions and following appropriate precautionary measures, which causes the fire to be confined to a predetermined area and accomplishes one or more planned land management objectives as specified in paragraphs 12-6-146(3), (4), and (7) of the Georgia Prescribed Burning Act or to mitigate catastrophic wildfires.” The framework of procedures and requirements for managing smoke from prescribed fires is detailed in Georgia’s Basic Smoke Management Plan.