Seasonal burning was implemented to help Hamilton County continue to achieve federal air quality standards. Burning restrictions are proven methods of controlling air quality and they encourage residents and companies to utilize alternatives to burning, including chipping, composting and recycling. The seasonal burn ban is from May 1 – September 30 each year.
- Burning is allowed with the appropriate permits between October 1 and April 30 on approved burning days (determined by air quality and the Tennessee Department of Forestry).
- An application must be filled out prior to obtaining a permit and reviewed by Bureau personnel.
- City applications require a $60 processing fee and an inspection by the Bureau investigator.
- County applications require a $10 processing fee and inspections are dependent on the application.
- Only clean, untreated, non-manufactured wood and natural vegetation can be burned.
- Non-compliance with any of the permit conditions is a violation of the law and is punishable by a penalty of up to $25,000 per day, per offense.
- The burning of garbage, treated lumber, paper and cardboard is NOT legal at any time. Burning in a barrel does not make it legal to burn, if burning is otherwise prohibited.
- Download our brochure for more information: Don't Get Burned.
Obtaining a Burning Permit
Burning will only be allowed if the following conditions are met and the Bureau Director has issued a Seasonal Burning Permit:
- The material must not be accessible for pickup service by the City of Chattanooga or other municipality pickup service.
- There must be no other reasonable method of disposal.
- For City Permits (Chattanooga, Collegedale, East Ridge, Red Bank and Ridgeside) an application must be submitted to the Director accompanied by a $60 inspection fee. For all other areas of the county, a $10 fee is required. Fees are collected to pay for the inspection and processing, and are non-refundable even if the permit cannot be issued.
- The burning must not present a health hazard or nuisance to others.
- Burning hours vary based on sunlight hours. All fires must be completely extinguished at the cut-off time for that day. No smoldering.
- Only raw, untreated wood and vegetation may be burned.
If you agree to burn under these conditions, you may download an application beginning in September for a burning permit. To complete the application, fill it out, print it, and mail it or bring it to:
CHCAPCB - Burning Permits
6125 Preservation Drive, Ste 140
Chattanooga, TN 37416-3740
Our Bureau Investigator, John Schultz, will answer questions concerning burning. You may reach him at (423) 643-5970.
Please allow 4 to 5 business days for your inspection, after which a status on your application will be available.
Alternatives to Burning
The APCB encourages Hamilton County citizens to find alternatives to burning. Burning leaves, brush and other vegetation produces smoke. Smoke contains a number of hazardous air pollutants, which increase levels of ozone and fine particle pollution. These pollutants cause health effects ranging from allergies to cancer.
The Bureau recommends residents:
- Plan Ahead - Plan to clear and burn between October 1 and April 30.
- Pile - Pile debris until the restrictions are lifted on October 1. Call 423-643-5970 beginning in September to apply for a permit.
- Pickup - Set brush and leaves at the curb for pick-up offered by these municipalities:
- Drop Off - Drop off at the City Landfill on Birchwood Pike.
- Recycle - Recycle by chipping or grinding and reusing the chips as landfill or mulch, or drop off brush at the Wood Recycling Center. Mulch and compost are free for city residents and there is a small fee for non-city residents.
Brush Collection Sites
Hours of Operation:
Monday-Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection is open Tuesday - Saturday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. This facility is located within the Wood Recycling Center.
Hours of operation:
Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Filing a Complaint
Burning is the primary complaint received by the Bureau. Many times, the person calling is experiencing breathing problems because a neighbor is burning. If you would like to file a complaint with the Bureau, call (423) 643-5970. We have an investigator on call 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. If the investigator does not answer, leave a message with your name and number and they will contact you as soon as possible.