Open Burning Season Reminder

Open Burning Season Starts January 15 and Ends May 1

To request a permit to burn, please call 978-671-0940 between 9:30am and 3:00pm.

A permit must be obtained from the Billerica Fire Department prior to any burning. Permits are issued daily and are only valid for the date on which they were issued. Residents must call to request a new permit each day they wish to conduct open burning. An open burning permit can be obtained by calling the Billerica Fire Department at 978-671-0940. When calling to request a permit, be prepared to provide your name, address, and a phone number at which you will be able to be reached throughout your burning. Please read the following information regarding open burning regulations, safety considerations, and other related information.

Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the spring, and fire officials will determine on a daily basis when it is safe to conduct open burning. If winds kick up or other atmospheric conditions change suddenly, making it unsafe to burn, permits can be rescinded.

All open burning must be conducted in accordance with the Department of Environmental Protection regulations (310 CMR DEP 7.07). Regulations state that open burning must be a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings, must be conducted between the hours of 10am and 4pm, and must take place on the land closest to the source of material to be burned. Keep a source of extinguishment ready and easily accessible during burning.

With a permit, burning the following materials is allowed:

  • Brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land clearing operations.
  • Materials normally associated with the pursuit of agriculture such as fruit tree prunings, dead raspberry stalks, blueberry patches for pruning purposes, and infected bee hives for disease control.
  • Trees and brush resulting from agricultural land clearing.
  • Fungus infected elm wood, if no other acceptable means of disposal is available.

Burning of the following materials is prohibited statewide:

  • Brush, trees, cane and driftwood from commercial and/or industrial land clearing operations.
  • Grass, hay, leaves and stumps.
  • Tires.
  • Construction material and debris.


Open Burning Safety Tips

How to Safely Ignite the Fire

An adult should always be present during open burning and children and pets should be kept a safe distance away. Use paper and kindling to start the fire and add progressively larger pieces of wood. Parts of a leftover Christmas tree may also be used.

Never use gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable liquid to start a fire because the risk of personal injury is high.

Burn one small pile at a time and slowly add to it. This will help keep the fire from getting out of control. Select a location away from any utility lines.

Fire Must Be Attended Until Extinguished

While the fire is burning, an adult must attend the fire until it is completely extinguished.

Have Fire Control Tools On Hand

Have fire extinguishment materials on hand including a water supply, shovels, and rakes.

The water supply could be a pressurized water fire extinguisher, a pump can or garden hose. Be sure to test your water supply before igniting the fire. You do not want to find out that the water is still shut-off at the house faucet or that the hose is cracked when you need it most.

Watch the Wind: Be Prepared to Extinguish All Open Burning

Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up or weather changes. Use common sense and don’t wait for the fire department to contact you that it has become unsafe to burn. Sudden wind change is how most open burning gets out of control.

Don’t Delay a Call For Help

If for some reason, the fire should get out of control, call the fire department immediately.

Use the utmost caution to prevent injury to yourself or family members or any damage by fire to your home.

People conducting illegal burning, or who allow a fire to get out of control, may be held liable for costs of extinguishing the fire, fined and even imprisoned (MGL C48 S13).

April is the Cruelest Month

April is usually the worst month for brush fires. When the snow pack recedes, before new growth emerges, last year’s dead grass, leaves and wood are dangerous tinder. Winds also tend to be stronger and more unpredictable during April.

Prevent Wildfires By Burning During Wet Snowy Conditions

Prevent permit fires from becoming wildland fires by burning early in the season. Wet and snowy winter conditions hinder the rapid spread of fire on or under the ground. Weather conditions and increased fire danger may lead to many days when burning cannot be allowed to take place.

Alternatives to Open Burning

Open burning releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, other gases, and solid substances directly into the air. This can contribute to respiratory problems. Disposal of natural materials is never as good for the environment as using them again in a different form. Tree limbs, brush and other forestry debris can be chipped or composted into landscaping material.

Information Source: FireFACTORS – Office of the State Fire Marshal, Massachusetts Department of Fire Services

Daylight Savings Time

This year, daylight savings time starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9th. When you turn your clocks ahead an hour, remember to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, take a minute to check the age of your alarms. The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services wants to remind you that carbon monoxide (CO) alarms need to be replaced every 5-7 years and smoke alarms every 10.

Our Newest Massachusetts Fire Academy Graduates

class-208-8x5-300dpiCongratulations to Billerica firefighters Steve Burgoyne, Chris Roberts, and Joe Venezia on graduating the Massachusetts Fire Academy today as part of Recruit Class #208.

Today’s firefighters do far more than fight fires. They are the first ones called to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies ranging from the suspected presence of carbon monoxide to a gas leak. They may be called to rescue a child who has fallen through the ice or who has locked himself in a bathroom. They rescue people from stalled elevators and those who are trapped in vehicle crashes. They test and maintain their equipment, ranging from self-contained breathing apparatus to hydrants to hoses, power tools, and apparatus.

At the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy they learn all these skills and more from certified fire instructors who are also experienced firefighters. Students learn all the basic skills they need to respond to fires and to contain and control them. They are also given training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, confined space rescue techniques, and rappelling. The intensive, 9-week program for municipal firefighters involves classroom instruction, physical fitness training, firefighter skills training and live firefighting practice.

Starting with Class #200, the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy changed its training format from 72 students in an 11-week program to a smaller class size of 24 students that starts every three weeks. There are still 72 students on campus at any one time, but the smaller class size is expected to achieve time efficiencies without compromising learning, and in fact improve education with smaller student/instructor ratios.

Students receive classroom training in all basic firefighter skills. They practice first under non-fire conditions and then during controlled fire conditions. To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation, and fire attack. Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple room structural fires. Upon successful completion of the Recruit Program all students have met national standards of National Fire Protection Association 1001 and are certified to the level of Firefighter I and II, and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational Level by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.

Is Your House Number Clearly Visible from the Street?

Seconds Count in an Emergency! That’s why it’s important that your house is clearly marked for emergency personnel. Simply put, ensure that assistance coming from any direction is easily able to identify your house number.

  • Protect your family and your property by having large visible house numbers.
  • Firefighters, police officers, and paramedics will be able to find you faster when your home is properly marked.
  • A visitor, child, or injured person may be unable to give clear directions and rely on your house being properly marked.
  • Emergency personnel from a neighboring community may be unfamiliar with your area.

Use Large, Visible Numbers!

  • The Office of the State Fire Marshal says “numbers need to be at least 4-inches in height and facing the street.”
  • Put the numbers under lighting, and use numbers with a contrasting background so they will be visible at night.
  • Attach numbers to the home and NOT a door. Doors can be opened which will make the markings no longer visible.
  • If your driveway is long, also post your house number on BOTH sides of a mailbox or sign pole at the end of the driveway near the road.
  • Be sure to keep the numbers visible by trimming trees and bushes.

Information obtained through Massachusetts General Laws C. 148, S. 59 & The Office of the State Fire Marshal.


2014 Firefighter Examination Information

The Human Resources Division is currently accepting applications for both components of the 2014 Firefighter, Municipal Service Examination. The Billerica Fire Department hires firefighters from the civil service list established from this examination. For more information or to apply for the exam, please follow the link below.