Open Burning Season Begins Jan. 15
BERKLEY — Chief Scott Fournier and Berkley Fire Rescue wish to remind residents that open burning will begin on Friday, Jan. 15, and that a burn permit is required to be in compliance with Massachusetts law.
Burning permits from previous seasons do not carry over from year to year. Residents can pick up blank applications in the mailbox in front of the Berkley Police Department’s main entrance, 3 North Main St. Residents can also drop off their completed application with a $20 check made out to the Town of Berkley in that mailbox. The mailbox will be checked daily, but applications may not be processed that day.
The application and additional information regarding burn permits can also be found on Berkley Fire Rescue’s website under the resources tab.
On applications, residents should include their email address for the burn permit to be emailed to them. Berkley Fire Rescue encourages residents to add BerkleyFirePrevention@gmail.com to their address book so the email containing the permit does not go to spam.
Due to COVID-19 compliance measures, there may be a delay in residents getting their burning permit number, and as a result no burning permits will be issued the day applications are submitted. Those who wish to burn should submit their burn permit application a week prior to allow time for processing.
Residents who have obtained permits need to call 508-822-7516 on the day they wish to burn between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Callers will hear a message that will inform them if burning is allowed that day and instruct them to leave their name, permit number and location of where the burning is taking place.
If burning is not allowed that day, the phone message will say so. The requirement to check in each day is based on changing atmospheric and weather conditions such as wind or air dryness. The department’s on-duty shift commanders will make a determination before 9 a.m. each day whether burning will be allowed in town.
Violations of the permit requirements, open burning law, and/or open burning regulations will be grounds for permit revocation. According to Massachusetts law, anyone found burning without a permit may be subject to criminal charges, the punishment for which is a fine of up to $500 plus the cost of suppression or by imprisonment for up to one month, or both.
Open burning must be done:
- Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Jan. 15 to May 1
- At least 75 feet from all buildings
- As close as possible to the source of material being burned
Residents are allowed to burn:
- Brush, cane, driftwood and forestry debris (but not from commercial or industrial land clearing)
- Agricultural materials including fruit tree and bush prunings, raspberry stalks, and infected bee hives for disease control.
- Trees and brush from agricultural land clearing
- Fungus-infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available
You may not burn:
- Brush, trees, cane or driftwood from commercial or industrial land clearing
- Grass, hay, leaves, stumps or tires
- Construction materials or demolition debris
- Household trash
What Times are Best for Open Burning?
- You can help prevent wildland fires by burning early in the season. Wet and snowy winter conditions help hinder the rapid spread of fire on or under the ground.
- Changing weather conditions and increased fire danger in spring can lead to many days when open burning is not allowed.
- April is usually the worst month for brush fires. When snow recedes, but before new growth emerges, last year’s dead grass, leaves and wood are dangerous tinder. Winds also tend to be strong and unpredictable in April.
How to safely ignite the fire:
- An adult should always be present during open burning and children and pets should be kept at a safe distance.
- Use paper and kindling to start a fire and add progressively larger pieces of wood. Parts of a leftover Christmas tree may also be used.
- Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire. The risk of personal injury in these cases is very high.
- Burn one small pile at a time and slowly add to it. This will help keep the fire from getting out of control.
- Select a location away from utility lines.
- Keep a hose or water supply nearby, as well as shovels or rakes to control the fire.
- Do not leave hot coals smoldering or unattended.
For more information on open burning in Massachusetts, visit the open burning page on Mass.gov.
Anyone with questions regarding opening burning should call the Berkley Fire Rescue at 508-822-7516.