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Haddam Fire Marshal Issues a Warning on Brush Fire Season

Submitted by Chris Gamache, Haddam Fire Marshal

(April 19, 2024) — With the warmer weather here, many of us are in our yards cleaning up from the winter. Leaves and tree branches are strewn about, but what to do with all of this? Some can drag the remnants deep into the woods, never to be seen again. Some of us cart the materials to the Transfer Station for disposal. And fortunately, for Haddam residents, another option is to burn brush on your own property. Before deciding to “play with fire” there are some important rules that need to be followed. It’s easy to do! Here’s how!

Brush fire season starts early to mid-spring, and again mid- to late summer; however, brush fires can occur at any time. Fires during these times can be extremely difficult for the Haddam Volunteer Fire Department to fight.

During the spring, the ground is still relatively wet, but leaves and sticks dry out quickly, and with low moisture in the air and slight winds, brush fires can burn quickly. The fire will literally “run,” covering a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. These fires are easily extinguished, but the sheer volume of ground they can cover presents difficulties.

During mid- to late summer, the ground becomes very dry, and as a result, brush fires can travel underground following root systems from trees and bushes and spread somewhat undetected. This type of fire requires a high volume of water to extinguish and often takes several days to do so. Most brush fires ignite because of illegal burning.

What can be done to prevent this? Burning permits can be obtained through the Fire Marshal’s office. It’s an easy process that takes very little time and is required if you wish to burn.

Haddam follows the guidelines set forth by DEEP. Only brush up to three inches in diameter is allowed. Leaves, garbage, building materials and the like are prohibited. A complete list of requirements can be found on the town’s web site, www.haddam.org. Give me a call, and I will visit your property, explain all the rules, and issue you a permit. It is that simple.

What happens when burning is done illegally without a permit? One can expect a visit from the fire department and from me, and your fire will be extinguished with a warning. Several warnings, or an illegal burn that produces a brush fire, could earn one an infraction from the State Police.

There is no charge for this service, so there is no reason not to do it. Going forward, if you see or smell smoke and believe it could be a brush fire, do not hesitate to call 911. If no permits are issued in the area, we will respond. Please call for more information or if you wish to obtain a burning permit.

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