Burn Permits

Habersham County residents are required to secure burn permits before building most outdoor fires. In accordance with the guidelines below, burn permits are issued Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Weekend permits are issued on Fridays. Call 706-839-0570 for burn permits for Habersham County (outside city limits). Please have the following information ready: name, address, phone number, who is going to be out with the burn, and what you are burning.

City of Cornelia residents, call Cornelia Fire Department at 706-778-8585.

City of Clarkesville residents, call Clarkesville Fire Department at 706-754-2024.

City residents of Alto, Baldwin, Demorest, Mt. Airy and Tallulah Falls, call 1-877-652-2876 or obtain permit online at www.gfc.state.ga.us.

Open Burning General Requirements

  • All burning operations shall comply with "Rule for Air Quality Control,"   Chapter 391-3-1 as written and as amended by the Environmental Protection Division, Air Protection Branch unless specifically amended by this article.
  • No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit open burning in any area of the county except as follows:
    • Agricultural fires: (permit/no fee) Carrying out recognized agricultural procedures  necessary for production or harvesting of crops. Contact Georgia Forestry prior to burning.
    • Forest Lands: (permit/no fee) The burning over of any forest land by the owners of such land. Contact Georgia Forestry prior to burning.
    • Residential Property Maintenance: (permit/no fee) Reduction of leaves, trees, downed trees and parts thereof, pine straw and sticks on the premises on which they fall by the person in control of the premises.
    • Recreational/cooking fires: (no permit/no fee) For recreational purposes or cooking food for immediate human consumption, e.g. camp fires in designated camping areas and "barbeque" grills.
    • Firefighter training fires: (no permit/no fee) Fires set for the purpose of training firefighting personnel.
    • Open flame equipment: (no permit/no fee) Operation of devices using open flames such as tar kettles, blowtorches, welding torches, portable heaters, and other flame-making equipment where approved safety measures are used.
    • Warming fires: (no permit/no fee) Small warming fires on construction sites in clean metal containers with spark arrester.
    • Bonfires: (permit/no fee) Prior approval of combustibles, site, life safety, etc., will be required by the county fire and rescue services.
    • Land clearing: (permit/fee) Burning in residential areas for the purpose of land clearing for construction or road right-of-way construction/maintenance. Permit is $250.00 per ACD (Air Curtain (burner) Destructor).
    • Packaging Materials: (permit/no fee) Disposal of packing materials previously containing explosives in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Safety Regulation.
  • Fires will be authorized between the hours of 10 a.m. and one hour before sunset as announced by the local news media. All fires are to be completely extinguished by the specified time unless special conditions exist and prior authorization has been granted. It is the responsibility of the party requesting the permit to notify the issuing agency of the special conditions when the permit is being issued.
  • No open burning will be authorized when weather conditions (wind, humidity, temperature, mixing level, overcast, etc.) may jeopardize the safety of life and property as determined by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) based on the daily weather forecast obtained from the state forestry commission or other weather forecasting resource.
  • No burning of any material that produces a smoke capacity greater than 40 percent. Determination of compliance will be at the discretion of the inspector.
  • No open burning will be authorized during an air pollution episode or when restrictions are imposed by a state or federal agency for other reasons.
  • All required permits will be issued by the county fire chief or his/her designee.
  • Permits may be revoked at any time by the issuing agency or its representing agency if conditions or permit restrictions require such.
  • Permits are valid for date of issuance unless otherwise noted.
  • The burning of "household" garbage is not authorized under this article and is expressly prohibited.

Open Burning on Privately-Owned, Residential Property

Homeowners or residents of single-family residential property are authorized to have open fires provided all the following requirements are met.

  • The fire(s) must be on the property occupied by the person receiving the permit.
  • Only natural vegetation can be destroyed by burning. "Natural vegetation" includes sticks, tree parts 6 inches and less in diameter, grass, pine straw, hedge trimmings, etc. Burning of poison oak, poison ivy, and any other vegetation, which produces severe respiratory damage, is not allowed. Burning of cardboard, treated wood, materials containing petroleum products, i.e., tires, plastics, wire insulation, roofing shingles, etc., is not allowed.
  • No vegetation pile shall be larger than 6 feet in diameter by two feet in height.
  • There shall be a minimum of 10 feet between vegetation piles.
  • No burning is allowed within 50 feet of a structure.
  • No burning is allowed within 25 feet of a wooded area, pine island, or other lightweight Class A fuel.
  • No fire shall be within 25 feet of the adjacent property line.
  • All open fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person 16 years of age or older to monitor and control such burning. A rake, shovel, or similar hand tool, and charged water hose that will reach to the most remote point of the burn material is to be immediately available.
  • No more than two burning piles are allowed at any one time.
  • Failure to comply with these rules which results in uncontrolled fire or a valid complaint by nearby property owner(s) or resident that requires the response of the county fire and rescue service will result in the fire being extinguished immediately.

Construction Site Burning

Only small warming fires using untreated wood or lumber are allowed. These fires are to be in suitable, metal containers such as a clean 55-gallon metal drum with a spark arrester. No open fires are allowed.  Fires incidental to the construction operation, i.e., tar kettles, welding torch, etc., are allowed.  The developer/general contractor/land owner in control of the property is responsible for the compliance with this article and the rules established by EPA/EPD.

Natural vegetation for land clearing may be burned on site if approved by the fire chief or his/her designee. The use of an air curtain destructor is required. Approval must be required prior to lighting any fire. The requirements under the following section regarding land clearing burning must be followed.

All open fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person 18 years of age or older to monitor and control such burning. A rake, shovel, or similar hand tool, and charged water hose that will reach to the most remote point of the burn material is to be immediately available.

Agricultural, Land Clearing, Right-of-Way Burning

Permits for agricultural, land clearing, or right-of-way burning in other than predominately residential areas will be issued if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Prevailing winds at the time of the burning are away from the major portion of the area's population
  • The location of the burning is not within 1,000 feet from any structure or not within 300 feet of any street, road or highway open to the public
  • The amount of dirt on or in the material is minimal
  • Petroleum oils, asphaltic materials, items containing natural or synthetic rubber, or any material other than plant growth are not being burned.
  • An air curtain destructor (ACD) is utilized and no more than one ACD is used for each ten acres of area with at least 1,000 feet between ACDs
  • The ACD is operated in accordance with the guidelines established by EPD

Permits may be issued for open burning of agricultural land where the use of an ACD is not practical, i.e., burning of pasture land or hay fields.

The company/contractor/landowner in control of the property is responsible for compliance with the requirements of this article and the rules established by EPA/EPD.

All open fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person 18 years of age or older to monitor and control such burning. A rake, shovel, or similar hand tool, and charged water hose that will reach to the most remote point of the burn material is to be immediately available.

Emergency Burning

Burning of storm debris on site may be authorized by the fire chief or his/her designee when there is no adequate disposal facility reasonably available or other arrangements cannot be made in a reasonable time frame. The requirements for the use of ACD, weather conditions, and population density in the affected area will apply.  All open fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person 18 years of age or older to monitor and control such burning. A rake, shovel, or similar hand tool, and charged water hose that will reach to the most remote point of the burn material is to be immediately available.

Enforcement

The fire chief or his/her designee shall be responsible for enforcement of this article. The chief or his/her designee shall be authorized to issue citation returnable to the magistrate's court for violation of this or any other fire safety ordinance adopted by the Board of Commissioners.