Burning Ban

No Burning Allowed

From May 1 through September 30, no burning — commercial or residential — is allowed in Hamilton County.

Burning restrictions are proven methods of controlling air quality and they encourage residents and companies to seek out alternatives to burning, like chipping, composting and recycling.  Burning includes fires used for the disposal of trees, brush or other natural vegetation from on-site land clearing projects.  The use of burn barrels is also prohibited during the seasonal ban. 

Burn bans do not just mean clean air--they mean jobs

Restriction of burning is one of the main control measures implemented in 2004 as part of the Chattanooga Area Early Action Compact (EAC).  Restricting burning seasonally decreases summertime pollution by at least four tons per day.  These measures continue to help Hamilton County achieve federal health standards for air quality, and keep jobs coming to our area.  We hope you will help us keep the air clean by composting, chipping or recycling your leaves and brush.

Other air quality control measures include:

  • Vehicle Emissions Inspection
  • Stage 1 Vapor Recovery (for trucks hauling gasoline)
  • Pollution Solution (program that alerts citizens to Air Quality Alert Days)

What is so bad about burning?

Burning leaves, brush and other vegetation produces smoke.  Smoke contains a number of hazardous air pollutants, which increase levels of ozone and fine particle pollution.  These pollutants cause health effects ranging from allergies to cancer.

Recreational fires are okay

Only recreational fires are allowed in Hamilton County during the seasonal ban.

Recreational fires are:

  • a cooking fire or campfire, using seasoned firewood
  • no larger than 3′ x 2′
  • occurs in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure, or ceremonial purposes

Ceremonial fires in the city of Chattanooga must have a permit from the Chattanooga Fire Marshal’s Department.  Call 423.697.1450 one week in advance to allow time for an inspection.  Please give advance notification to your local fire department if you do not reside in the city.

The burning of garbage, trash, treated lumber, paper and cardboard is not legal at any time.

What happens if I burn during the ban?

Anyone who burns during the ban could be assessed a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per day, per occurrence.

Alternatives to burning

Hamilton County offers several alternatives to burning, including:

  • brush pickup in municipalities,
  • chipping,
  • piling, and
  • recycling.

Burning is allowed October 1 through April 30.  Burn Permit Applications are available from September 15th through April 24th of each year.   Contact the Air Pollution Control Bureau at 423.643.5970 for questions or additional information.