Doing some burning this weekend? Check with the Fire Department first

After the winter we had, there’s a good chance your yard is strewn with broken branches and other organic debris – mine certainly is. If you’re planning on cleaning it up with the help of a bonfire, don’t forget that you’ll need a permit from the Fire Department before you break out those matches.

Even if you have a permit, you may not be able to burn. The state Department of Environmental Protection has implemented new air quality regulations with are expected to significantly reduce the number of days on which brush burning is allowed. According to a statement on the Southborough Fire Department website:

The  windy, dry days of spring, which are better for smoke dispersal are generally high brush/grass fire danger days (the tree canopy has not come into full bloom resulting in tinder-dry leaves and grass on the ground in woods and forests), and burning is not allowed on those days. Cloudy, damp days, which drastically reduce the chance of a permit fire causing an out-of-control brush/grass fire are not conducive for good air quality. Brush burning permit days will be greatly reduced this season due to these enhanced regulations.

The MassDEP recommends chipping and mulching as alternatives to burning.

For those of you who still want to burn, you now have the option of getting a permit online. You’ll need a credit card to pay the $10 fee (the fee is waived for those over 65), and the permit will take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to process. You can also stop by the fire station to register for a permit. Hours are Monday through Friday (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) or Saturday (9:00 am to 1:00 pm). Only checks are accepted at the fire station.

Once you have a permit, you need to call the Fire Department at 508-485-3235 each day you plan to burn to see if conditions are right.

The permit allows you to burn brush up to 4 inches in diameter. You’re not allowed to burn leaves, grass, hay, stumps, rubbish, construction materials or buildings. Set up your fire at least 75 feet from any building, and of course, have a water supply readily available.

The are more restrictions, and you can read all about them on the Fire Department website. Burning season ends on May 1.

(Image posted to Flickr by thievingjoker)

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