Get burn permits early

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

Burn permits are recommended for anyone wishing to do a controlled burn, and one state official is asking residents to “have patience” when calling for one.

Mike Older, the Covington County work unit manager/forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said due to budget cuts at the state level, the state’s 10 call centers, which handle permit requests and dispatching for the AFC, were reduced to three and will soon be reduced down to one for the entire state.

“Right now, we have such a demand for permits that it takes folks two to three hours to get one,” Older said. “So if you’re going to do some burning, you need to call at off-peak times. It’s open 24 hours a day. Our 10 dispatch centers will eventually be reduced to one. Right now, we’re operating three. It’s overloading our system.”

Older recommended calling during early morning and nighttime hours.

“From 7 a.m. until about dark, they are really busy issuing permits,” he said. “In addition to dispatching us to wildfires.”

Burn permits are required for burns more than quarter acre in size or within 25 feet of a continuous fuel source.

“Normally yard piles aren’t required to have permit,” Older said. “But if you’re going to burn a pile of something out in the middle of a Bahia grass hay field, that grass would be considered a continuous fuel source and you would need a permit.”

The permits are issued for one to three days, depending on need, and can be obtained by calling 1-800-392-5679. When calling, please detail the property location, section, township and range — which is available on property deeds, county maps or the Covington County Courthouse.

There will also be a class held May 11-14 at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center for anyone interested in becoming a certified burn manager. Call 222-7779 for more information.