Gloucester's open, outdoor burning season is set to begin Sunday and run through Tuesday, May 1.
That means residents may apply for permits beginning this weekend to carry put any outdoor burning to dispose of brush, cane, driftwood, forestry or agricultural debris, and, under limited conditions, fungus-infected elm wood, interim Fire Chief Phil Dench said Monday.
Open burning can only be done with a permit issued by the Fire Department, Dench added. Open burning is prohibited for grass, hay, leaves, stumps, and commercial or industrial land clearing for non-agricultural purposes.
Dench said fire officials will be monitoring closely the compliance with a state law requiring that the burning take place at a location greater than 75 feet from any dwelling. If an applicant cannot conduct burning at least 75 feet from a dwelling, he or she will not be permitted to burn, Dench said.
A permit for open burning can be obtained at Fire Headquarters, 8 School St., beginning Saturday, Jan. 14, and a permit issued that day will be effective for Sunday Jan. 15.
Permits issued are issued daily thereafter, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The permit is initially issued for one day, but the permit remains valid, unless suspended or revoked, for the entire burning season, Dench said.
Permission to burn under the permit, after the date of issue, must be obtained by calling Fire Headquarters after 9:15 a.m. using the business line, 978-281-9760. Residents should not call the emergency number 911 or the department's 978-283-2424 number to request permission to burn, Dench emphasized.
The requirement to call in each day is based on changing atmospheric conditions, such as wind and dryness, Dench said. The on-duty deputy fire chief will make a determination before 9 a.m. daily if burning will be allowed.
Dench also noted that the burning permit fee has increased this year to $25, as authorized by the state Legislature, for the original permit. The department will only accept checks, not cash.
Any returned checks must be redeemed in cash and a $25 fee for handling returned checks will be charged. There is no charge for permit extensions each day or to replace a lost original permit.
Violations of the permit requirements, open burning law, and, or open burning regulations will be grounds for permit revocation. Persons found burning without a permit may be subject to criminal charges, with a fine of up to $500, plus the cost of suppression — or by imprisonment for not more than one month or both.