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Residential Yard Debris Burning

Burning yard debris is a common practice in agricultural areas.

As much of the City of Milton is zoned as agricultural land, the Milton Fire-Rescue Department is involved in regulating the burning of small amounts of yard waste.

Outdoor burning standards are established by the state and are based on environmental and safety factors. Foremost among these regulations is an annual burn ban.

The Georgia Burn Ban runs from May 1 through Sept. 30. No outdoor burning is permitted during this time. Read this important safety information from Milton's Fire Marshal regarding city and fire code regulations from Oct. 1 through Apr. 30.

For more information on the yearly burn ban, state environmental requirements associated with outdoor burning, and the special requirements for land clearing, please refer to the state air quality web site.

The rating is dependent on factors such as the wind and humidity levels for the day. Call the Milton Fire Department at 678.242.2541 during regular business hours to check if safe burning is permitted, or refer to the fire safety rating at the Georgia Forestry Commission web site.

Please note that all fires must be out at dark. Only residents who live in agriculturally zoned areas of the city are permitted to burn (click here for a zoning map).

Additionally, you may refer to commercial weather web sites to see if a “Red Flag Warning” is posted for the day (often as a weather alert, much like a tornado watch), which will ensure that you will not be able to burn that day.

The following guidelines will be enforced by Milton Fire Department, should you choose to burn:

These regulations generally address smaller amounts of natural, hand-piled vegetation to manage:

  • Leaf and limb piles
  • Grass and shrub clippings
  • Vegetative disposal from storm damage
  • Weed abatement
  • Disease/pest prevention

* Land clearing (whole trees, large branches, etc.) is not included in these regulations and contractors/landowners should contact the fire marshal regarding appropriate burning guidelines for large amounts of debris. For the special requirements for land clearing, please refer to the state air quality web site.

Tools needed for a safe burn include:

  • A rake to create a debris-free ring around the fire area
  • A charged water hose at the fire
  • A shovel
  • Proper clothing (long pants, long sleeves, boots, gloves) and safety glasses

The following regulations apply to outdoor burning:

  • Clear 25 feet or more area around debris pile.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start fire.
  • The resident is responsible for their smoke and embers and is liable for any damages resulting from the burn.
  • Never leave the fire unattended.
  • Ensure fire is completely extinguished and pile is cool to the touch when the burn is done.
  • Cooking fires: Open burning in a reasonable fashion for the purpose of cooking food for immediate human consumption is allowed.
  • Burning under hazardous conditions: The fire marshal may prohibit any open burning when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such burning hazardous. Fire crews are designated to stop burns that are deemed unsafe by the company officer.
  • Location of the fire: The location for open burning shall not be less than 50 feet from any structure (house, outbuilding, fence, public utility, etc.) on larger piles (approximately 3 to 5 feet in diameter), and 25 feet where the pile size is 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height.
  • Recreational fires: Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure (house, outbuilding, fence, public utility, etc.) or combustible material.
  • Remember, smoke and heat from fire rises, so lower-hanging branches and leaves can be considered combustible material and could pose a fire risk as well. Care should be taken to ensure that the flames and heat do not get high enough to damage overhead foliage.

The Fire Marshal reminds residents that they are responsible for smoke and ashes generated by the fire, so keep the pile small and under control. The fire department reserves the right to extinguish any fire that is creating a safety hazard.

For more information on the state burn ban, contact Marietta at 678.242.2541 or