Brush burning permits available tomorrow through May 1st

by beth on January 14, 2020

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Above: Residents can burn brush (within limits and with permits) on approved days, January 15 through May 1st. (Photo of burning brush by Susan Fitzgerald)

Brush burning season is open tomorrow, January 15th through the first of May. But before you break out the matches, you’ll need to get two permits.

It looks like the process hasn’t changed from the Open Air Burning permits rules updated last year.

In January 2019, the Southborough Fire Department announced new procedures. If you aren’t familiar, you’ll want to read up on those before you apply for permits.

The main thing to note is that daily permits are free, but first you’ll need to pay for the season permit here. (Note: the link won’t be active until the 15th.)

After that, you’ll need to apply online for a “Daily Open Air Burning Activation” each day that you burn. The window for that is between 9:00 am and noon. If the link doesn’t enable you to apply, burning is prohibited that day.*

Once granted, burning is authorized between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. But, the SFD warns that authorization could be rescinded for safety reasons:

Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the spring. If winds kick up or other atmospheric conditions change suddenly at any time during the day, burning permit authorizations may be suspended and ongoing fires must be extinguished immediately.

As always, the burning is only for residents, not commercial properties. And residents aren’t allowed to burn brush from commercial/industrial land clearing. (Some materials from agricultural clearing are allowed.) Other Don’ts include burning grass, hay, leaves and stumps, tires, and construction material/debris.

The SFD specifies that while burning:

  • An adult must attend to the fire at all times until completely extinguished.
  • The person attending the fire must be able to be contacted by the Fire Department at all times (i.e. cell phone).
  • A water supply, capable of extinguishing the fire, must be readily available.
  • Smoke, soot and ash from your fire cannot create a nuisance to others or to the environment.

Failure to adhere to the regulations “will result in the suspension of your burning permit, and/or fines.”

For the details including the full lists of Dos, Don’ts and Safety measures, click here.

*The SFD doesn’t make the decision, they just enforce it. The Department of Conservation & Recreations’ Bureau of Forest Fire Control determines the likelihood of out of control fires occurring and The Department of Environmental Protection determines the likelihood of environmental/public impacts from open air smoke. These Departments post their decision each day by 9:00 am and reserve the right to amend that at anytime during the day.

**Online payments were $10 last year – but aren’t yet posted for this year. Expect an additional fee for credit card or electronic check. To avoid that, you can mail/drop off a check to the SFD at 32 Cordaville Rd. Make sure you reference your application number.

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