At one time, state law required those who wanted to burn leaves and limbs on their property had to contact the Georgia Forestry Commission and obtain a burn permit.
But that law was change law was changed by the Georgia General Assembly during its 2021 spring session and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. As of July 1, if a resident wants to burn leaves and limbs on their property, there is no longer a requirement to obtain an official burn permit.
It should be noted, however, that the five-month total outdoor burn ban period that runs each year from May 1 to September 30 will continue to remain in effect. That is a federal law overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Outdoor burning is now allowable through April 30, 2022, and the next burn ban will take effect the following day, May 1, 2022 and go through Sept. 30, 2022.
According to Bryan Rooks. chief ranger for the Carroll, Douglas and Haralson counties agency of the Georgia Forestry Commission, the trigger point point for the citizens of Carroll County for land clearing burns — which is categorized differently from simple yard burns — is if the population is greater than 65,000 residents. Carroll’s population was tentatively designated by the US Census Bureau as just under 120,000 on April 1, 2020.
“There is a difference between simply burning leaves in your backyard and a land burn which encompasses a much larger area,” Rooks noted.
“That type of large scale burning requires a permit and use of an air curtain destructor [ACD],” Rooks explained.
The ACD is a piece of equipment that uses a large fan and ventilation system to create a large and fast moving curtain of air across the top of a pit or trench, or a self-contained box.
Although the changes made by the state legislature that no longer mandate that a burner inform the Georgia Forestry Commission online or by phone about their intention to burn leaf piles and yard debris, new legal safety requirements are now specified for this type of burning.
According to Carrollton Fire Chief Jimmy Bearden, lawn burns of natural outdoor debris is allowed without a permit, but he emphasized that such items as household trash, paint cans, and other similar items is prohibited.
“If someone wants us to come by and check their burn and make sure everything is being done correctly, we will certainly do that,” Bearden said.
The Georgia Forestry Commission strongly recommends that citizens follow the safety requirements known collectively as SSTAR:
S- Space (25+feet between fire and woodlands)
S- Space (50+ feet between fire and structures)
T- Time (sunrise to sunset only)
A- Attendance (person responsible stays onsite until the fire is completely extinguished and there is no risk of the burn reigniting and escaping)
R- Reasonable Precautions (continuous pressurized water source on site; man-made natural barriers to contain the fire such as bare soil, rock, bricks, burn barrel, etc; hand tools or fire containing equipment; and weather awareness).