Residents who hope to participate in this fall’s open burn season must apply for a burn permit from their local fire department before doing so to preserve local air quality.
Open burn season began Sept. 15 and will continue through October, but “open burn” doesn’t mean residents are free to ignite trash at will, said Tooele County Fire Warden Tom Wilson.
Those who live within an incorporated area, such as Tooele City, Grantsville or Stockton, must receive a permit from their city fire department. Residents of unincorporated areas, such as Erda or Stansbury Park, must contact the fire warden or obtain a permit from the North Tooele County Fire Department.
These permits are not difficult to obtain — the process can be completed entirely online in some cases, and the final product printed off at home, Wilson said.
“We’re trying to get the public to comply, and we’re trying to make it as easy as possible,” he said.
Compliance has proven problematic in past years. Last year, Wilson said he issued just five permits, but noticed numerous unauthorized burns. Those burns, he said, are illegal, and may result in a home visit by the fire department that will request to extinguish the fire. Those who start unauthorized burns may also be ticketed.
More importantly, if state officials determine that unauthorized burning is contributing to high levels of air pollution, the open burn period may be canceled prematurely for everyone, said Wilson.
Open burns are not permitted when the air index is below 500, or, in areas bordering wildlands, if relative humidity falls below 20 percent with winds exceeding 10 miles per hour.
Residents can check burn conditions at www.airmonitoring.utah.gov. However, Wilson said permits will not be issued on days when air conditions would prevent burning.
Burning any plastic or manufactured items is prohibited at all times. Only natural, woody materials may be burned.
Additionally, the permits address several safety issues related to open burns. In order to qualify for a permit, residents must plan to monitor their burn at all times, to put out the fire before dark, to locate the pile at least 30 feet from all structures and fences, and to have a hose and shovel on hand.