Safety rules for outdoor fires

Sandra ClarkFarragut, Feature, Halls, Northeast Knox, Powell

Spring is upon us! It’s time to clean up around the house and property, right?

Right! Rural Metro Fire wants you to do it properly and safely.


Knox County has adopted rules that many people new to the county may not know. If you’re a long-term resident, this may just be a refresher before you start your spring clean-up.

  • Always obtain a burn permit from Knox County Air Quality Control prior to burning. It’s free and it will be good for a period determined by AQC depending on conditions. You must keep the burn permit number with you while burning should the fire department be called to the property. The number for AQC is 865-215-5900 and they are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • You can only burn outdoors (except for cooking and recreational camp fires) until dusk. All fires must be extinguished by dusk or face fines from Knox County.
  • You can only burn natural rubbish. For example, tree branches, wood from trees, brush, etc. No leaves. Also, you cannot burn construction materials. Those materials may contain components such as certain glues that could be harmful if inhaled.
  • If you’re going to burn something other than recreational camp fires or cooking fires, it’s a good idea to have a garden hose deployed and rake the undergrowth away from where you’re burning, just to prevent the spread of the fire should it get away from the burn area.
  • Never, never, leave a fire unattended.
  • You cannot use any flammable liquids on the fire to get it started.

Again, these guidelines will be listed on the burn permit you obtain from Knox County.

Information provided by Captain Jeff Bagwell of Rural Metro Fire, a division of AMR, the nation’s largest provider of emergency services. Its 200 full-time and on-call firefighters operate from 17 stations serving Knox County since 1977. Property owners can subscribe to Rural Metro by calling its Members Services Office at 560-0239.

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