Fall is typically our active fire season with fallen leaves acting as fuel, and this year it is made worse due to the hot and dry conditions.

Burn bans and suspensions are active in several Tennessee counties, but there is some confusion on what it exactly entails.   

The only Tennessee counties in our area that are under the Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Ban are Marion, Sequatchie, Franklin, and Van Buren.

Hamilton County is not under a burn ban, but instead, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau has extended the burn suspension only for controlled burns typically in place during the summer months.

Prohibited controlled burns include the disposal of brush or agricultural burning.

Recreational fires, such as a campfire, are still allowed in Hamilton County.

"A fire that is 3 feet wide, 2 feet high, and you can only burn firewood or if you're doing a cooking fire, you can use charcoal," Amber Boles, PR Coordinator for Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau, defined of recreational fires.

Although recreational fires are allowed in Hamilton County, you need to follow proper fire safety.

"We want to make sure that people are attending the fire. That it is legitimately recreational, and once they're finished with the fire it does need to be completely extinguished," said Boles.

For Marion, Sequatchie, Franklin, and Van Buren counties under the burn ban, restrictions are much tighter.

"That prohibits many more types of fires, in fact, all types of human-caused fires. And, I am talking about campfires, grills, anything charcoal or wood-fired grills," Tim Phelps, Public Information Officer for TN Division of Forestry, listed.

These restrictions apply to parks and campgrounds within those counties.

The manager at Marion County Park in Jasper is letting his visitors know immediately.

"Well, the first thing that I'm going to do is hand you the notice of what you're allowed to have as a means of cooking in this park. We're not allowed to have open flames, campfires, or charcoal grills," Gene Black, Manager at Marion County Park, stated.

LP gas grills can be used for cooking.

State Parks affected include Fall Creek Falls, South Cumberland, and portions of Cumberland Trail.

If you are in an area that is not under a burn ban, you are required to obtain a burn permit through the Tennessee Division of Forestry before conducting any debris fires.

Each day they look at conditions and may or may not issue a permit.

In Hamilton County, you must apply for a burn permit through the air pollution control bureau in addition to the state. Permits are being issued now, but they will not be valid until the controlled burn suspension ends in Hamilton County.

Burn bans and these other restrictions won't be lifted until we receive adequate rain.

"I don't want to give a number in terms of inches or rain, but we certainly need sustained rain probably over a couple of days to really douse the ground and kind of put us out of this drought situation," explained Phelps.      

He also added that a lot of fires are caused by equipment, such as lawnmowers, hay balers, and combines.

These are not covered under burn bans or permits.

To prevent these fires, make sure to maintain your equipment, keep it clean of debris, and don't park over dry grass which can be easily ignited by a hot element on the machinery.

To continue to monitor the situation in Tennessee, visit burnsafetn.org and specifically for Hamilton County, the Air Pollution Control Bureau.

In Georgia, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Phelps said to check municipal restrictions that supersede state regulations.