Controlled burns allowed, new permits for agricultural purposes only for now

Landowners and custodians in possession of controlled burn permits, or whose permits had expired during lockdown, are allowed from this week to perform their burns – with the usual safety requirements as well as Covid-19 measures in place.

George Fire Chief Neels Barnard said controlled burns were halted during initial stages of Covid-19 lockdown but could now be resumed in coordination with the George fire department. “The fire department offices, however, remain closed to the general public to protect our firefighters and new controlled burn permits will for now only be issued for agricultural purposes. Decisions surrounding controlled burns will be reviewed monthly and landowners are encouraged to contact the fire department in this regard.”

Current permits and permits that expired during lockdown are extended for three months, with the last allowable date for controlled burns this year being on 30 October 2020, after which fire season starts.

The municipality would prefer that only controlled burns for agricultural purposes – such as clearing fields for regrowth – take place and request land owners that are using fire to reduce biomass to consider alternatives such as chipping.

A controlled burn permit is valid for 12 months from the date of issue but may not be used during the official fire season, which in the Western Cape is usually from November/December to February/March each year.

On the day of the planned controlled burn the permit holder must phone the fire station for permission to light the controlled burn. Permission may be withheld if the Fire Index for the day is too high.

Controlled burns must take place Monday to Thursday, excluding public holidays, and all fires must be extinguished by 16h00 every day.

Permits will not be issued inside the urban edge (among residential areas).

“We appeal to the public to always be fire aware, no matter what time of the year it is – please exercise extreme caution at all times, make fires in protected and designated areas only, and dispose of cigarette butts safely. Burning of garden refuse in residential areas is illegal,” said Mr Barnard.

Useful contact numbers:

Fire emergencies only: 044 801 6311

All after-hours emergencies: 044 801 6300

General inquiries (office hours): 044 801 6300

Uniondale (office hours): 044 752 1225

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