COVINGTON -- Rockdale County Fire and Rescue and the Newton County Fire Service joins with the Georgia Forestry Commission in reminding citizens that outside burning is banned beginning May 1.
Fifty-four counties in Georgia are affected, including Rockdale and Newton counties.
The annual restriction is required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to enhance air quality during the summer months when high ozone levels can negatively impact people's health. Elevated ozone and particulate matter can contribute to watery eyes, breathing issues and lung and heart disease.
"The air is typically hot and stagnant when the summer ban on burning yard and land-clearing debris in in effect," said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells. "That means less particulate matter that may influence air quality being released in the most populated areas of Georgia. Our teams will also be closely monitoring and responding to any wildfire activity where smoke could impact air quality."
Sorrells said recent rainfall has erased Georgia's drought and reduced the potential negative impacts on air quality from wildfires.
The burn ban will be in effect from May 1 through Sept. 30 and includes the following counties: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.
Residents in other parts of Georgia that are not included in the annual burn ban will continue to be required to secure a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission before conducting any outside burning. Permits can be requested online at GaTrees.org or by calling the local office of the Georgia Forestry Commission. If conditions are safe for burning, permits will be automatically granted.
"As we move into late spring and summer months in Georgia, everyone needs to monitor their local conditions and remain vigilant when burning outdoors," Sorrells said. "Even a campfire, barbecue grill or overheated lawnmower can spark a fire. By being vigilant, we can make it a safe and healthy summer of 2013."
For more information about annual burn restrictions, burn permits and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.