WHAT IS THE DROUGHT EMERGENCY DECLARATION
Posted by: Staff
Date: Nov 09 2023 1:01 PM
Section 9-13-141 of the Code of Alabama states: “at such time as the state forestry commission has declared by regulation a
drought emergency in any county or counties, it shall be unlawful in such county or counties for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes or to build a campfire or bonfire or to burn trash or other material that may cause a
forest, grass or woods fire.”
This prohibition has been put in place in all 67 counties in Alabama. Specifically, the regulation prohibits any prescribed burns,
any campfire or bonfire, any trash or debris fires, or any other open burning.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE ‘CAMPFIRE OR BONFIRE’ PROHIBITION?
Campfires or bonfires include any fire that is burned on bare ground, even if surrounded by stones or in open dirt pits.
This includes campfires, ceremonial fires, ‘council’ fires, bonfires, ‘warming’ fires, and cooking fires that are on bare-ground and not in a masonry lined ‘pit.’
DOES THE PROHIBITION INCLUDE BARBEQUES?
Barbeque fires for cooking are allowed IF the fire is in a grill or masonry barbeque pit, including large barbeque pits used by civic organizations to prepare food. Anyone grilling or barbequing during the Drought Emergency should have water hoses on
site to prevent any loose sparks from setting a wildfire, a circle at least 10 feet wide around the grill should be cleared of any burnable material. Side fires to generate coals for a barbeque must also be within a grill or masonry pit. Gas grills are allowed.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE ‘TRASH OR DEBRIS FIRE’ PROHIBITION?
Trash and debris fires include burning of woody debris, yard waste, garbage, construction debris or any other material, in
either an open pit or in a barrel. At this point in time, people should not burn a debris pile until the Drought Emergency is lifted.
Tornado debris can be disposed of at one of the ADEM or EMA approved sites. Check with your local authorities for the
WHAT OTHER THINGS ARE INCLUDED IN THE DROUGHT EMERGENCY?
The intent of the Drought Emergency Declaration is to prevent catastrophic wildfires during drought conditions. No one should have open flames in a woodland setting. At campsites, only closed lanterns may be used, not open flames like candles and ‘Tiki torches.’ Care should also be exercised in suburban areas where lawns are also very dry. Fireworks are prohibited during Drought Emergency as well.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THESE REGULATIONS?
Under Section 9-13-142, Code of Alabama, anyone found guilty of violating these regulations and improperly doing open burning in a Drought Emergency declared area shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $250 nor
more than $500 and, at the discretion of the court, that person may also be sentenced to the county jail for up to six months.
Additionally, any person burning in violation of the Drought Emergency Declaration, will be liable for damages to the property of another and any costs associated with the suppression of said fire. Suppression costs would include equipment and
personnel costs related to control or extinguish the wildfire.
For more information visit the Alabama Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.
To report a WILDFIRE,
call (800) 392-5679