By Paul Leighton
BEVERLY — The Beverly Fire Department has announced that it will start charging $10 for open burning permits.
The permits used to be free, but the department said it will institute a $10 fee "in an effort to curb illegal burning and reduce incidents of improper permitted burning."
Many Massachusetts communities allow residents to burn yard waste outdoors between Jan. 15 and May 1. Local fire departments are charged with enforcing regulations and issuing permits.
Beverly used to allow homeowners to call the Fire Department the morning they wished to conduct the burning, and the department would issue a permit free of charge over the phone.
Now residents will have to go to the station once a year to get a permit for $10. Once the permit is issued, the permit holder will only be required to call with the permit number to request permission to burn on additional days. Fire officials will grant permission based on weather and environmental conditions.
The department said in a press release that the $10 charge brings Beverly in line with other communities that charge for open burning. Hamilton charges $20 while Danvers and Ipswich charge $10, according to those towns' websites. Peabody does not charge, according to its fire prevention office. Salem does not allow open burning.
The Beverly Fire Department said the new permitting system will help the permit holder understand the open-burning requirements and improve safety.
In Beverly, residents with a permit can conduct burning between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Fire officials say the fire must always be attended, with an extinguishing method handy to keep the fire from getting out of control.
Residents can purchase an open-burning permit starting Jan. 12 at Central Fire Station from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays. The permit is valid from Jan. 15 to May 1. Burning is not allowed before Jan. 15.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.