Submitted The Tennessee State Forester is requiring permits for outdoor burnings as of Sept. 23, approximately three weeks earlier than normal (Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs require burn permits throughout the year, but the change impacts any county residents living outside city limits).

Submitted

The Tennessee State Forester is requiring permits for outdoor burnings as of Sept. 23, approximately three weeks earlier than normal (Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs require burn permits throughout the year, but the change impacts any county residents living outside city limits).

After weeks of hot and dry weather leading into the fall fire season, Macon County saw its first drops of rain break the cycle late last month.

However, county residents looking to conduct any outdoor burnings will still need to collect a burn permit early, under a policy instated by Tennessee State Forester David Arnold effective on Sept. 23.

"This precautionary measure will be beneficial as we continue to monitor fire risk," Arnold said in a release announcing the change. "The burn permit system focuses attention on safety, and it's important for citizens to know when, where and how to safely burn debris. Caution and conservative judgment should always be used when working with fire."

Typically, state burn permits are required between Oct. 15 and May 15. While the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has not observed an increase in the number of wildfires or a high risk for fire danger, the permit date was moved up as a precaution.

Those looking to receive a burn permit within the county during this time period may call the Macon County Fire Tower at 615-666-4111.

For residents in the Lafayette or Red Boiling Springs city limits, permits for open-air outdoor fires are required year-round through the local fire departments.

"We usually go out (first) and look at what they're wanting to do," Lafayette Fire Chief Troy Brawner said. "The only thing you're allowed to burn in Tennessee by law is leaves and natural products like limbs, and we've got a new ordinance that prevents people from burning leaves unless they're using a fire pit less than 10 square feet."

The ordinance also allows leaves and grass to be burned in a heat-resistant container under 10 square feet, and it states that burning of a brush pile may be allowed by permit after inspection.

"Location (for a safe burn) also depends on how much someone is burning," Brawner said. "You always want to be a safe distance away from any structures or objects that could catch fire."

According to Brawner, Lafayette does not intend to implement a burn ban unless the area sees another two to three weeks of hot, dry weather.

Red Boiling Springs has not implemented a burn ban either, but RBS Fire Chief Randall Bray recommends residents refrain from outdoor burnings during the fire season.

"We don't need anything burned in the city at this time," Bray said. "Our water system is pretty low right now, and we need to conserve what we've got to effectively fight any fires."

Bray is still able to accept calls regarding outdoor burnings and provide a permit to city residents.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

Further information on conducting outdoor burnings can be found at www.BurnSafeTN.org.