NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Although storms have rolled through Middle Tennessee over the last few days and more are expected around Independence Day, dry conditions across the region have prompted more restrictions on fires and fireworks.
Gallatin Fire Chief Jeff Beaman has advised that “due to the extremely dry current conditions, city residents, visitors and businesses should not shoot personal fireworks.”
“With the chance of rain this weekend, we will continue to monitor conditions and will quickly notify everyone should the status change,” Beaman said in an announcement from the city on social media. “We know this isn’t a popular announcement, but the potential for fires is too great to ignore.”
Gallatin Fire Marshal, Mark Hall, has not been issuing open burn permits, nor will he until the area receives enough rain to counter the current drought conditions across the Volunteer State, Gallatin officials said. Any open burning, including lawn waste, leaves, woody debris and more, requires a permit from the Gallatin Fire Department.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Sumner County, where Gallatin is located, is experiencing “moderate drought” conditions.
The Nashville region has only received 0.88 inches of rainfall for the month of June, well below the normal average. By comparison, in June 2021 Middle Tennessee received 2.21 inches of precipitation. With dry conditions, lower humidity and expected wind conditions, much of the area is currently under greater risk for fire.
Sumner County officials, in conjunction with the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture & Forestry, have implemented a countywide burn ban on all open burning, including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires and outdoor grills.
Portland Fire Chief Sam Thornton announced earlier this week that no fireworks could be shot within the corporate limits of town, citing the substantial lack of rainfall in the area.
“The Nashville region has only received 0.88 inches of rainfall for the month of June, well below the normal average. By comparison, June 2021 Middle TN received 2.21 inches of precipitation,” he said in the announcement.
Millersville Fire Chief Brandon Head announced this week that no citizens will be permitted to discharge fireworks and “similar pyrotechnic devices” until further notice, calling the decision “difficult.”
“We as a City feel that with current weather conditions, the risks for fire and damage to property are elevated,” Head said. “This will coincide with the current ban on open burning that we have in place.”
Head further stated a reversal of the decision would take “a significant rain event,” apologizing for any inconvenience the ban posed to residents planning their Fourth of July celebrations.
Tullahoma Deputy Fire Marshal Nick Kimbro announced Friday, July 1, that its ongoing burn ban would also include a prohibition on fireworks in the city limits Saturday, July 2, even though Tullahoma city ordinances allow for fireworks to be discharged July 1 through 5.
The potential for rain this weekend could help keep the risk of fires low but not zero, the deputy fire marshal said.
“If we do receive the forecasted rainfall this weekend, it may improve but not eliminate the risk of unintentional fires,” he said. “Should the ban be lifted later this weekend, please exercise caution when using fireworks.”
The agriculture commissioner’s ban is also in place in Cheatham and Robertson counties, both of which are also experiencing “moderate drought” conditions in much of the area.
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Ashland City Fire Chief Chuck Walker announced the discharge of any personal fireworks in the city limits will be prohibited “until further notice” due to the ongoing dryness.
“The current dry conditions make it extremely hazardous for citizens to discharge fireworks of any type,” Walker said. “This step is being done for the safety of the citizens and property of Ashland City and was reached after much consideration and discussion.”
Additionally, the fire chief said the department will not be issuing any new open burn permits within the city limits. Anyone with an existing permit is asked to discontinue burning until further notice.
Down in Cleveland, Cherokee National Forest officials sent out a reminder about the year-round prohibition of fireworks inside National Forest System lands.
“Fireworks can create dangerous fires, especially with the warmer temperatures and drier conditions we’ve been having here in Tennessee. Please leave all fireworks at home and enjoy a fun and safe holiday weekend with family and friends,” said Michael Wright, Acting Forest Supervisor for the Cherokee National Forest.
NFS officials say fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited on all national grasslands and national forest lands year-round, regardless of weather conditions or holidays. Violations are punishable as a misdemeanor.
According to the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office, fireworks caused $1.23 million in direct property damage in Tennessee last year. Officials are asking Tennesseans to stay cautious and to help first responders have a safe holiday along with them.
“During the fun and festivities of this year’s Fourth of July holiday, I remind Tennesseans to not risk starting a fire or injuring themselves thereby adding to the burdens of our hard-working emergency and medical personnel,” said State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “Celebrate the holiday safely by thinking of others and not pursuing risky behavior that can lead to an injury or death.”
“During the Fourth of July holidays, I urge Tennesseans to not risk starting a fire or injuring themselves thereby adding to the burdens of our hard-working first responders,” Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley said.