Change to Burn Permits in Rabun County
There is a big change coming to outdoor burning. Rabun County is changing its burn permit requirements, says Rabun County Assistant Fire Chief Justin Upchurch. “Some changes in the law have modified the responsibilities of those intending to burn vegetative debris outdoors. People planning to burn hand-piled leaves, or naturally occurring yard debris, are no longer required to formally notify the Georgia Forestry Commission. The GFC’s online and toll-free burn notification systems will reflect this change on July 1, 2021, and will no longer be processing notification calls. People planning to burn debris must take full responsibility for keeping their fires contained and are required to ensure that five safety standards are followed. Those standards can be remembered with the “TAKE FIVE STAR.” Before you burn, “Take Five,” and remember the acronym, “S-S-T-A-R.” Each of the star’s five points represents a burning safety standard: Reasonable Precautions – Person responsible must take reasonable and necessary precautions to prevent fire escape or spread from the original location. Space – Burn location must be no less than 25 feet from any woodlands, forestland, or field that contains brush, grass, or other flammable material. Space – Burn location must be no less than 50 feet from structures, which includes homes, outbuildings, sheds, and barns. Time – Burning must take place between sunrise and sunset. Attendance – Person responsible must attend burning at all times until fire is completely extinguished and there is no risk for burning to escape control. Reasonable precaution examples include: Continuous pressurized water source on-site, such as water hose. Buckets of water or hand-held sprayers do not meet legal requirements. Man-made or natural barrier to contain your fire such as bare soil, rocks, bricks, or burn barrel. Hand tools or fire-containing equipment on site, such as rake, shovel, garden hoe, etc. Weather awareness to NWS red flag warnings, High Fire Danger designation of Class 4 or Class 5 days, and other hazardous conditions, such as prolonged drought, low relative humidity or high winds, etc. As always, the person responsible will be liable for damages to adjacent properties due to fire escape. An Unlawful Burn Notice may be issued for not following the above requirements and suppression charges may be levied by the GFC IF a burn ignites a wildfire as a result of any of the preceding five standards not being followed. The 54-county GA EPD ban on summer outdoor burning remains fully in effect, May 1-September 30. Agriculture, silviculture, and land-clearing burns for residential or commercial development DO require notification to the county forest ranger and a permit IS still required for these activities.” The new state law goes into effect on July 1. For more information, visit www.gatrees.org.