Friday, January 8, 2010
Open burning season regulations and safety tips from the Fire Chief
Registration is Required
Open burning season will begin on January 15 and will end on May 1 at 4 p.m. All landowners must be registered with the fire department before a permit can be issued for the day. If you have not registered already, go to the communications center at the Police Station to register. Registered landowners must call 1-978-369-1442 each day burning is planned to obtain a permit. Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the spring, and the Fire Department will determine on a daily basis when it is safe to conduct open burning. If winds kick up or other atmospheric conditions change suddenly, making it unsafe to burn, permits can be rescinded.
The Fire Department may also limit the number of permits issued for a particular day. For this reason it is recommended that land owners conduct their burning while the ground is still wet or frozen or ideally, when there is a snow cover. During these times the danger of a brush pile getting out of control is minimized.
The open burning must be at a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings, must be conducted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., must take place on land closest to the source of material to be burned, according to Department of Environmental Protection regulations (310 CMR DEP 7.07).
Burning, with a permit for the following is allowed:
• Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land-clearing operations.
• Materials normally associated with the pursuit of agriculture such as fruit tree prunings, dead raspberry stalks, blueberry patches for pruning purposes and infected bee hives for disease control.
• Trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
• Fungus-infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available.
Burning of the following materials is prohibited statewide:
• Brush, trees, cane and driftwood from commercial and/or industrial land -clearing operations.
• Grass, hay leaves and stumps, and tires.
• Construction material and debris.
An adult must always be present during open burning and children and pets should be kept a safe distance away.
Use paper and kindling to start the fire and add progressively larger pieces of wood. Parts of a leftover Christmas tree may also be used.
Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire because the risk of personal injury is high.
Burn one small pile at a time and slowly add to it. This will keep the fire from getting out of control.
Select a location away from utility lines.
While the fire is burning, an adult must attend the fire until it is completely extinguished.
Have fire extinguishing tools on hand, including a water supply, shovels and rakes.
The water supply could be a pressurized water fire extinguisher, a pump can or garden hose. Be sure to test it out before igniting the fire.
Watch the wind
Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the wind picks up or weather changes. Use common sense and don’t wait for the Fire Department to contact you to say that it is unsafe to burn. Sudden wind change is how most open burning gets out of control.
Don’t delay a call for help
If the fire should get out of control, call the Fire Department immediately. Dial 911. Use the utmost caution to prevent injury to yourself or family members or any damage by fire to your home.
People conducting illegal burning or those who allow a fire to get out of control, may be held liable for costs of extinguishing the fire or might be fined or even imprisoned (MGL C48 S13).
April is the cruelest month
April is usually the worst month for brush fires. When snow pack recedes, before new growth emerges, last year’s dead grass, leaves and wood are dangerous tinder. Winds also tend to be stronger and more unpredictable during April.
Alternatives to open burning
Open burning releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, other gases, and solid substances directly into the air, which can contribute to respiratory problems. Disposal of natural materials is never as good for the environment as using them again in a different form. Tree limbs, brush, and other forestry debris can be chipped or composted into landscape material. Many landscape contractors offer this service. ∆
© 2010 The