2020 Tennessee Code: Title 39 – Criminal Offenses Chapter 14 – Offenses Against Property Part 3 – Arson-explosives § 39-14-306. Setting Fires at Certain Times Without Permit.
a. 1. It is unlawful for any person to start an open-air fire between October 15 and May 15, inclusive, within five hundred feet (500′) of any forest, grasslands or woodlands without first securing a permit from the state forester or the state forester’s duly authorized representative. Depending upon the potential for hazardous burning conditions, the state forester may prescribe a period other than October 15 to May 15 within which a permit must be obtained prior to starting an open-air fire.
2. A violation of this subsection (a) is a Class C misdemeanor.
(Class C misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail, and/or $50 fine)
b. 1. In extreme fire hazard conditions, the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester and the county mayors of impacted counties, may issue a burning ban prohibiting all open-air fire in any area of the state.
2. A violation of this subsection (b) is reckless burning and punishable as a Class A misdemeanor as provided in $ 39-14-304.
(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.)
c. This section shall not apply to fires that may be set within the corporate limits of any incorporated town or city that has passed ordinances controlling the setting of fires.
Secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry. Online at http://www.burnsafetn.org/
Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a ½” mesh screen cover.
You may obtain a permit by calling your local Division of Forestry office (865)-354-1054 in your county. If your debris pile is 8 x 8 feet or smaller you may obtain a permit on-line. Online permits and a list of county office phone numbers can be found at: The website also has tips on how to burn safely as well as other useful information.
PLEASE BE SURE TO CHECK ANY BURN BAN THAT MAY BE IN EFFECT. Examples • leaves, brush fence rows • ditch banks • fields, grassland • gardens • wooded areas • campfires, cooking fires • grills, charcoal or wood fired (but not natural or propane gas fired) • burn barrels etc.
What Not to Burn in Tennessee