AUGUSTA – Citizens seeking to burn brush, wood debris or agricultural fields now have the option to obtain their open burning permits electronically. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Forestry announced that it has expanded the online burn permit system statewide. Traditional hand-written burn permits are still available, but the online system allows permits to be acquired 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing that the fire danger is not high.
“The ability of Maine citizens to conduct business online saves time and money and helps make state government more responsive and open,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This is another positive change in the way we do business that will benefit the public. And please remember, only burn during periods of low fire danger and always be safe when making and tending to burn fires.”
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that with this expansion Maine continues to be a leader in providing online burn permits. “Maine is one of the first states to issue permits electronically,” said Whitcomb. “The online burn permit system has proven to be a convenient, safe and reliable alternative means to obtain burn permits. We are pleased to be able to offer it to all Maine citizens.”
To expand the online system to cover the entire state, Forest Rangers, in cooperation with the Maine Fire Chiefs Association, made several improvements to the online burn permit system. The system has been available in certain southern Maine counties since 2005.
Unlike the previous system, revenues will now be shared with the municipality where the burn will occur. When permits are issued, the system can also notify up to twenty Town Fire Wardens and Fire Department personnel with emails or text messages. According to Chief Forest Ranger Bill Hamilton, “the online system is safe and only allows permits to be issued on class one or two days when the fire danger is low. By encouraging people to burn after 5pm during periods of low to moderate fire danger, the chance of the burn escaping decreases significantly.”
Online burn permits can be obtained at any time and are valid for 48 hours after payment has been submitted. The Fire Chief or Town Warden for each municipality is able to impose further restrictions on allowable burn times or needed personnel and equipment.