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Fire department reminds county is under burn ban

LAWRENCEVILLE - With the heat - and smog - increasing, Gwinnett fire officials are reminding the public that the county is one of 54 in the state under a burn ban, and to be vigilant when cooking outdoors.

From May 1 to Sept. 30, the following types of outdoor and open burning are not allowed, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division:

· Burning of trees, limbs or any other yard waste.

· Burning over of forest or land by the owners of the property.

· Burning of vegetative waste from land clearing (includes a ban on the use of air curtain destructors).

Of course, fires for recreational use - grilling food or starting a campfire in a designated area - are permitted. In addition, fires for agricultural purposes - which must be zoned RA-200/residential agricultural - or forestry prescribed burns are allowed.

The Georgia EPD imposes the ban annually during the summer months to reduce pollutants that contribute to unhealthy levels of smog. Violating the ban can result in a fine levied by the Georgia EPD.

Local fire officials said a secondary benefit of the ban is a reduction in the number of inadvertent fires compounded now by extremely dry conditions.

"We have seen back-to-back dry seasons," Gwinnett Fire Marshal Ed Knopnik said. "This cumulative effect is something that is new and different for us. Normally, we get a boost that we really haven't gotten."

If you do grill, the Fire Department recommends the following safety tips:

Due to harmful carbon monoxide emissions, grills, barbecues and similar devices are not to be used indoors or in a confined area.

Combustible materials such as leaves, vegetation, paper products, tablecloths, charcoal bags and lighter fluid containers, should be stored a safe distance away from open-flame devices.

The placement of grills, barbecues and similar devices are required to be placed at ground level on a stable or solid surface and 10 feet or more from combustible building construction or combustible balconies.

The use or kindling of open-flame devices on apartment balconies is not permitted and residents are encouraged to use common grilling areas safely located away from residential areas or combustibles.

For additional information, call the Gwinnett County Fire Marshal's Office at 678-518-6100 or visit www.gwinnettfiremarshal.com.