Officials: Strict rules apply to leaf-burning season

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Officials allow outdoor burning of debris and vegetation from October through the end of April, so long as rules set aside by the Gwinnett County Fire Ordinance are followed.

"When not conducted properly, an outdoor burn can quickly spread out of control and threaten nearby structures," Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said in a release. "Outdoor burns should only be conducted when necessary and always with safety in mind."

Traditionally, in the fall, many property owners begin burning yard debris, foliage and vegetation instead of having it hauled away. Rutledge explains that if an individual chooses to burn, they must follow rules and regulations.

"Most people don't really have an understanding of the burn restrictions that apply," Rutledge said.

First, burns are only allowed during daylight hours Monday through Saturday. Fallen vegetation such as limbs, leaves and branches are permitted for burns, but trash and other materials are prohibited.

Secondly, burning piles cannot grow larger than three feet by three feet. They must be at least 50 feet from any structure, and cannot occur during a burn ban.

"We are not under a burn ban at the moment, but there are days in burn season that you cannot burn. Those days are sporadic and deal with atmospheric conditions," Rutledge said.

Burn bans are usually applied when there are unexpected changes to the weather. Those considering burning should first check with the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction to verify that there are no current burn bans. Their website is gwinnettfiremarshal.com.

"Our Fire Marshall's office first takes an educational approach to educate people on what they can burn and in what size piles," Rutledge said. "However, if there are repeat occurrences, or if it is a gross violation of the ordinance then they will issue a notice of non-compliance or a citation."

Community members who feel their health or wellbeing is being threatened can call CRR to file a complaint. Firefighters will respond and ask the individual to extinguish the fire, unless they are abiding by regulations, Rutledge said.

For further information on rules and regulations, call the Burn Information Line at 678-518-4979.