Open Burning Season Begins Today
GLOUCESTER — Chief Eric Smith and the Gloucester Fire Department wish to remind residents that open burning begins today, and that a burn permit is required to be in compliance with Massachusetts law.
All residents who wish to apply for permits can do so by filling out an online form here. There is a $25 fee to acquire a permit, and residents can pay the fee online or by mail.
To listen to the daily Open Burning status, call 978-325-5306. Residents who wish to burn must call the status line each day they wish to burn to learn if burning is being authorized on that day.
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 Mass.gov.
Anyone with questions regarding opening burning should call the Gloucester Fire Department at 978-325-5300.