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Georgetown Fire Department

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the different types of burn permits and their requirements?

What types of fires do NOT need a burn permit?

Why does Georgetown Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office require permits?

How do I obtain a burn permit and what is the cost?

Why is there a cost for my burn permit?

How do I activate my burn permit?

What responsibilities am I assuming when I light my burn?

What are the possible fines?

Are there items I am not allowed to burn?

Where can I find the official rules?

Who can I call if I still have questions?


Why does Georgetown Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office require permits?

        • To track the locations of all approved burns, so dispatch can more easily determine whether a smoke plume/fire is an emergency such as a wildfire or structural fire. By tracking approved burns the fire department may not have to be dispatched each time smoke/fire is reported.

        • To educate the public on state laws, local regulations and rules governing open burning.

        • To prevent the unnecessary response of fire departments with active lights and sirens.

        • To limit the number of calls placed to the emergency dispatch and reserve their efforts for true emergencies.

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How do I obtain a burn permit and what is the cost? 

Since January 1, 2016, an operational burn permit has been required.

The following fees have been assigned:

        • Controlled Burn Permit: active for 365 days at a cost of $25.00 annually

        • Commercial Burn Permit: active for 30 days at a cost of $100.00

Other permits:

        • Bonfire Permit: valid per event at no cost

        • Prescribed Burn Permit: active for 30 days at no cost

You may apply for a burn permit online by navigating HERE.

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What are the different types of burn permits and their requirements? 


City Ordinance 105.6.30 Open Burning:
An operational permit is required for the kindling or maintaining of an open fire or a fire on any public street, alley, road, or other public or private ground. Instructions and stipulations of the permit shall be adhered to. Persons who are issued an operational permit may have the permit revoked in the case of not adhering to the guidelines for a period of up to 24 months.


Rules for permit burning:

A fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on site fire extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose, dozer, or water truck shall be available for immediate utilization.

        • Burning shall be commenced and conducted only when wind direction and other meteorological conditions are such that smoke and other pollutants will not cause adverse effects to any public road, landing strip, navigable water, or off site structure. Open burning adversely effecting public health will be extinguished.

        • Burning shall not be commenced when surface wind speed is predicted to be less than six miles per hour (mph) or greater than 23 (mph) during the burn period.

        • With the exception of bonfires, cooking fires, recreational fires, and portable fireplace fires, permitted fires shall not be ignited prior to sunrise and shall be extinguished prior to sunset.

        • All Texas Commission on Environmentally Quality (TCEQ) rules will apply for prescribed burning.


Georgetown Fire Marshal’s Office offers four (4) Operational Permits for Open/Outdoor Burning

Operational burn permits require a permit application which shall only be presented by, and permits issued to, the owner of the land upon which the fire is to be kindled. Trench burn permits will be issued to the name of the company that will be responsible. The permit shall be kept on site and readily available for view upon request at all times when burning. A permit shall be obtained from the City of Georgetown Fire Marshal’s Office prior to kindling a fire for the following:

1. Residential (Controlled) Burn Permits are needed for the burning of unwanted vegetation, fallen limbs, and leaves are locally referred to as “controlled burns.” This type of fire requires an operational permit. A “controlled burn” is allowed within the county of Georgetown’s fire district with issuance of an operational burn permit. Controlled Burn Permits are needed in the Emergency Response District (E.S.D.), county area that Georgetown Fire Department serves. Controlled Burn Permits are not allowed inside the city limits unless the burn is conducted on land with one acre or greater. The fuel load of a controlled burn shall not exceed 5’ in diameter by 7’ in height. A controlled burn permit is valid for 365 days.

**REMEMBER**
When conducting controlled burns, the key term is “controlled.” Part of being in control is to:
1. Notify the Georgetown 911 Communication Center (512-930-3510) of your burn;
2. Have a water source readily available; and
3. Stay with your burn to supervise it.
Unattended burns are dangerous, not considered as controlled and are a sure “fire” way of having the fire department called to put it out!

2. A Commercial Burn is generally accomplished by general contractors in a commercial construction application using an air curtain incinerator (ACI): An incinerator that operates by forcefully projecting a curtain of air across an open chamber or pit in which combustion occurs. Incinerators of this type may be constructed above or below ground and with or without refractory walls or floor. An air trench or burn box operation that promotes efficient burning, producing less smoke and less fire embers. A Commercial Burn Permit ($100) requires a site approval by the Georgetown Fire Marshal’s Office and is valid 30 days from issuance.

3. A Bonfire is defined as an outdoor fire utilized for ceremonial purposes and requires a Bonfire Permit (for information regarding your typical recreational fire pit, please scroll toward the bottom of the page). City ordinance 307.4.1 states a bonfire shall not be conducted within 100 feet of a structure or combustible material. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 100 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition. The fuel load of a bonfire shall not exceed 10’ x 10’ in size. A Bonfire Permit is required and is only valid per event.

4. A Prescribed Burn is defined as a fire used for the purpose of reducing the impact of a wildlife fire, crop management, general land clearing, and prevention of and control of diseased pests/animals. A prescribed fire is allowed within the county of Georgetown’s fire district with issuance of a Prescribed Burn Permit. A Prescribed Fire Permit is valid 30 days from issuance. Read more about Prescribed Burns Here.

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Why is there a cost for my burn permit?

To alleviate the costs associated with the development of new tools and technology to help identify a controlled burn versus a true emergency. This fee is intended to simply cover the cost of the development and implementation of the service. Fees collected also purchase Fire & Life Safety educational supplies for all ages.

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How do I activate my burn permit?

        • By calling Georgetown 911 Communications Center at 512-930-3510.

        • Please note, when activating a burn permit it is only active for a single day. Should you wish to burn for consecutive days you must reactivate your permit for each day you intend to burn.

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What responsibilities am I assuming when I light my burn?

        • You must have enough water, hand tools/equipment, and people to keep your fire under control.

        • If you do not activate your permit before burning, the Fire Department may respond to your fire even though it is under control because dispatch is unaware it is a controlled burn.

        • If the fire escapes your control, you may be cited and fined, as well as having to pay the cost of suppression and any damages caused to someone else’s property.

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What are the possible fines?

If a person burns without having a permit:

        • We will educate the person on the new requirements and require that they obtain a permit prior to burning the next time. We will only require the fire to be extinguished if violations of state laws, local regulations and rules governing open burning are found during our investigation.

If burning is deemed illegal and in violation of Texas Outdoor Burning Regulations 30 T.A.C. 111b:

        • Permit will be revoked for a period of 1 year of the date of the violation.

        • Williamson County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office will investigate. 

              • If the person intentionally or knowingly, with respect to the person’s conduct, violates the General Requirements for Allowable Outdoor burning or any other rule promulgated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding outdoor burning. An offense is punishable for an individual by a fine or not less than $1,000 or more than $50,000, confinement in the county jail for a period not to exceed 180 days, or both.

              • An offense is punishable for a person other than an individual by fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $100,000.

In all cases, restitution can be ordered separately from the criminal fine. Restitution may include but are not limited to paying damages to other property owners and paying for the firefighting resources.

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Are there items I am not allowed to burn?

The following items are prohibited from open burning at any time:

Aluminum

Pathogenic wastes, hazardous wastes, trade wastes

Appliances

Potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes

Automobile bodies and interiors

Railroad Ties or other creosoted products

Carpet and carpet padding

Styrofoam and other plastics

Electrical wire

Tires, rubber materials, asphalt shingles, tarpaper

Heavy oils and petroleum products

Treated lumber or timbers

Insulation

TVs

Items containing natural or synthetic rubber

Any item that has been generated at another location and hauled in

Non-wood construction/demolition materials

Any materials resulting from a salvage operation

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What types of fires do NOT need a burn permit?


General Rules to Remember for your Backyard … 

… Cooking Fires: should not be operated within 10 feet of a structure or combustible material.

… Portable Outdoor Fires: should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.

… Recreational Fires: should not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.


The following outdoor fires are allowed within the City of Georgetown and Georgetown’s fire response district, WITHOUT the need of an operational burn permit from the Fire Department/Fire Marshal’s office:

Cooking Fires are defined as an outdoor fire where fuel (wood, charcoal, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas) is used in preparation of food prior to consumption. Fuel being burned is contained in a barbeque grill, barbeque pit or similar container. The process of burning wood to create coal will be considered as part of the cooking process. Cooking fires are allowed in the city limits of Georgetown and Georgetown’s fire response district without an operational permit from the Fire Department/Fire Marshal’s Office.

Rules for cooking fires:

        • Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies of any multi-family structure (apartment complex) not equipped with a fire suppression sprinkler system.

        • Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated within 10 feet of combustible construction; this includes balconies and patios for any multi-family dwelling.

        • It is highly recommended not to operate charcoal burners and open-flame cooking devices within 10 feet of combustible structures at single family residents.

A Portable Outdoor Fire is defined as a portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay, or other noncombustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney opening in the top. Commercially available examples include chimeneas, portable outdoor fireplaces and portable outdoor fire pits.

Rules for portable outdoor fires:

        • Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.

A Recreational Fire is defined as an outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking warmth or similar purpose. Examples of this are traditional campfire rings or fire pits with fuel dimensions stated above. Recreational fires are allowed within the city limits of Georgetown and Georgetown’s fire response district.

Note: Fuel, for a recreational fire, will not include rubbish, construction waste, treated lumber, tires, electrical wiring, lead flashing, carpet, heavy oils, plastics, chemical waste or other synthetic materials. In layman’s terms, if you would not cook food to consume over the material burning, you may not burn it!

Rules for recreational fires:

        • Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.

        • Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

If you are wanting to burn unwanted vegetation, fallen limbs, and leaves, this is a Controlled Burn, which requires a permit.

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Where can I find the official rules?

Residents living inside the city limits of the City of Georgetown, outside the city limits of the City of Georgetown but within the Williamson County Emergency Services District No. 8 (WCESD #8) are required to obtain an Operational Burn Permit for an Open/Outdoor Burn from the Georgetown Fire Department.

The City of Georgetown is currently using the 2015 International Fire Code with local amendments.  Please note the 2015 Fire Code Amendments.

Additionally, below are the State Outdoor Burning Regulations as outlined by the State of Texas Forestry Service and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality 

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Who can I call if I still have questions? 

You can call the Georgetown Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office at (512) 930-FIRE (3473) 

or

Check out the State Outdoor Burning Regulations below for Additional Information:

Outdoor Burning Rules, Regulations and Guidance – The Texas Forestry Service  
Outdoor Burning – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

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