COVINGTON -- The summer burn ban imposed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division ends Oct. 1.
Residents in the 54 counties where the burn ban is imposed -- including Rockdale and Newton -- can begin burning limbs, leaves and other yard debris on that date, if they obtain the proper permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission.
Only hand piled natural vegetation can be burned; nothing that has been piled up by machinery can be burned, said Mike Sapp, chief ranger with the Newton-Rockdale-DeKalb-Henry GFC unit.
"Safety-wise, stay with the fire at all times, have a water source available, use a rake or shovel to clear around the pile down to the dirt so the fire won't spread," he said. "All fires have to be completely out one hour before dark." Fires also should not be started before 8 a.m.
Wet the pile down to make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving it, he added. Residents should also make sure to burn a safe distance away from any structures and be courteous to their neighbors and not burn near property lines, Sapp said.
Permits can be obtained online at www.gatrees.org or by calling 1-877-652-2876. The local GFC unit will be in charge of issuing permits only for 1 acre or larger burns, which can be obtained by calling 770-784-2480.
It is unlawful to burn man-made materials such as tires, shingles, plastics, lumber or household garbage. Permits are issued only for natural vegetative materials.
Burning permits are good only for the day they are issued. Those obtained after dark are good the following day.
The ban, in effect May 1 through Sept. 30, is designed to prevent the release of nitrogen oxides and particle pollution into the air, according to the EPD. Both pollutants contribute to lung and heart disease. People, particularly children, are more apt to be outdoors during May through September, and ozone and particle pollution are generally higher during this time than other times of year.