Open Burning Rules for Georgia
The Georgia Rules for Air Quality (391-3-1-.01(tt)) define open burning as any outdoor fire from which the products of combustion are emitted directly into the open air without passing through a stack, chimney, or duct. Such burning releases smoke, oxides of nitrogen, and other pollutants that have a negative impact on Georgia’s air quality. Georgia’s Open Burning Rules(391-3-1-.02(5)) were created to improve air quality in our state.
13 Legal Burn Types
Open burning in Georgia is prohibited with the exception of 13 types of legal burn activities: (1) reduction of leaves on premises, (2) agricultural procedures for production or harvesting of crops (if land tract is 5 acres or less), (3) burning vegetative material for agricultural operations (if land tract is greater than 5 acres), (4) prescribed burning, (5) recreational purposes and cooking, (6) fire-fighting training, (7) acquired structure burns, (8) vegetative debris from storms, (9) weed abatement, disease, and pest prevention, (10) open flame devices, (11), land clearing, construction, and right-of-way maintenance, (12) disposal of packaging materials for explosives, and (13) land clearing with an air curtain destructor.
Additional burning restrictions may apply based on the county and time of the year. The Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division may waive these additional restrictions upon a determination that such open burning is necessary to protect public health, safety or welfare, or there are no reasonable alternatives.
It is unlawful in Georgia to burn man made materials such as tires, shingles, plastics, lumber, or household garbage, even in a burn barrel. For more information on backyard burning, please refer to the Hidden Hazards of Backyard Burning Brochure.
“Summer Burn Ban” (May 1 – September 30)
Air quality can deteriorate in the summer due to the formation of ground-level ozone. The Summer Burn Ban reduces ozone by prohibiting certain open burning activities from May 1 through September 30 in specific counties. During this period, the following open burning activities are prohibited in 54 counties: (1) reduction of leaves on premises, (7) acquired structure burns, (8) vegetative debris from storms, (9) weed abatement, disease, and pest prevention, (11), land clearing, construction, and right-of-way maintenance, and (13) land clearing with air curtain destructors.
Prescribed burning (4) is also prohibited in 19 counties that include Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton.
Non-summer Burn Types (October 1 – April 30)
27 counties already subject to the summer burn ban with populations over 65,000 are limited to only ten of the thirteen open burning activities (burn types 1 through 7, 10, 12, and 13) from October 1 through April 30. To reduce fine particulate matter pollution in these counties from October through April, the following open burning activities are prohibited (8) vegetative debris from storms, (9) weed abatement, disease, and pest prevention, and (11) land clearing, construction, and right-of-way maintenance.
Air Curtain Destructor
Open burning for the purpose of (13) land clearing with an air curtain destructor requires a burn permit through the Georgia Forestry Commissions’ online permit system. If you have questions about air curtain destructors read the or contact your local EPD district office.
Prescribed burning serves many useful purposes including the 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 ecosystems. Georgia’s Open Burning Rules define prescribed burning 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.
Learn more about air pollution and burning by downloading the following brochures:
- Hidden Hazards of Backyard Burning Brochure
- Los Riesgos de la quema de basura en los patios
- Particle Pollution and Your Health Brochure
Please click on pages below for specific information.
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