How do I obtain a burning permit?
Visit the Permit Application page for information and instructions.
Residents of of Chattanooga, Collegedale, East Ridge, Red Bank, and Ridgeside receive City Permits. A Bureau Investigator must inspect the site and the material to be burned to ensure that air pollution regulations will be followed. Residents of Chattanooga are subject to a nonrefundable $50 inspection fee. Because these cities offer free curb-side pickup of leaves and yard waste, the Bureau generally does not issue permits for burning these materials.
Residents in other parts of Hamilton County receive County Permits. Depending on the location of the burning site, an inspection might be necessary. This will be determined by the information obtained in the application. There is a $5 processing fee for all County Permits.
When is a burning permit not required?
Burning permits are not required for fire training purposes, warming fires, cooking fires or recreational fires (example - campfire). However, we advise you to contact your local fire department in advance. A recreational fire only burns clean, untreated wood - anything else is considered a violation.
What am I Not Allowed to Burn?
The Bureau only allows the burning of brush and leaves. For a detailed list of items that are not to be burned and the proper disposal method for those items, click here.
How Do I Know if I Can Burn?
The burning status is determined by the predicted daily air quality. To obtain this status call the Daily Air Quality Report Info Line at (423) 643-5971 or check out our Daily Air Quality Report.
Note: Any burning violation, including burning without a valid permit, can result in a citation and a civil or criminal penalty.
Why Can I Only Burn for Part of the Year?
Restriction of burning is one of the main control measures adopted as part of the Chattanooga Area Early Action Compact (EAC). Other measures include Vehicle Emissions Inspection, Stage 1 Vapor Recovery (for trucks hauling gasoline) and the Pollution Solution, a program promoting clean air by establishing Air Quality Action Days.
The Chattanooga Area EAC covers Hamilton, Meigs and Marion counties in Tennessee, and Walker and Catoosa counties in Georgia. EACs are voluntary agreements that improve air quality ahead of federal requirements and allow states and cities to implement local strategies for meeting the new, stricter federal ozone standard. Ozone is known as the "summertime pollutant" because it is formed when chemicals from vehicles and power plants come into contact with heat and sunlight.
High levels of ozone can "sunburn" your lungs, just like the sun burns your skin. It is especially harmful to children, the elderly and people with existing lung conditions, but too much of it is harmful to anyone who respires it, including people, fish and plants.
Meeting the milestones of the Early Action Compact keeps Hamilton County from being declared "non-attainment" (out of attainment with federal standards). This ensures that we can keep bringing jobs and building roads in our hometown and it also preserves the health of our community.
Seasonal Burning Ban
The annual Seasonal Burning Ban goes into effect May 1st prohibiting burning from May 1-September 30 each year. All burning permits issued during the burning season expire April 30th. The Bureau begins processing permits for the next burn season on September 1. To apply for a permit contact the Air Pollution Control Bureau at 423-643-5970 or fill out an application online.
Restricting burning will decrease summertime air pollution by at least four tons per day, significantly helping the area achieve the ozone standard by 2007. We hope you will help us keep the air clean by composting, chipping or recycling your leaves and brush. If you have any questions, please contact the Bureau at 423-643-5970 or check out our Burning Ban page.