Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Ban
Under state law, the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, has the authority to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain weather conditions. The request by county mayors is completed following mutual agreement with the Tennessee Division of Forestry's District Forester whose district includes that county.
The bans apply to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity outside of municipalities where local ordinances apply.
- leaves, brush fence rows
- ditch banks
- construction debris, boards, plywood, decking, cardboard, etc.
- fields, grassland
- wooded areas
- campfires, cooking fires
- grills, charcoal or wood fired (but not natural or propane gas fired)
- burn barrels
- household waste
- air curtain destructors
A violation of a Commissioner of Agriculture imposed burn ban is considered reckless burning and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.
Burn bans under 39-14-306 are issued exclusively by the commissioner of agriculture and only after consultation with the state forester and the county mayor(s) of impacted counties.
Burn bans prohibit the KNOWING starting of an open air fire. Same reasoning would apply to fire causes of common summer wildfires from vehicles, equipment, powerlines, smoking, welding, hay stacks, etc.
Though often advertised or interpreted as a ban, burn restrictions such as not issuing permits for debris
is a lower tier limitation of outdoor burning.
Primary enforcement engagement is with county and local law enforcement agencies with support from the Department of Agriculture Ag Crime Unit.