CONCORD — The N.H. Forest Protection Bureau is encouraging anyone seeking a fire permit in New Hampshire to use the state’s online fire permit system in order to maintain social distancing that has been recommended by the Center for Disease Control as a way of reducing the spread of COVID-19.

At the same time that individuals are seeking to renew and obtain fire permits this spring, it has become necessary for fire departments to institute measures to protect personnel and citizens from the spread of COVID-19 even while continuing to provide critical services in their respective communities. Agencies are following the CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and adjusting customer access to fire department facilities, which may temporarily impact local permit issuing procedures.

The Forest Protection Bureau is actively working with forest fire wardens and fire departments throughout the state to both maintain situational awareness and to implement emergency measures that address the spread of COVID-19. This public health emergency has had a significant impact on the workload of local fire departments and emergency responders. Obtaining a fire permit online is an option available for individuals in many communities.

In New Hampshire, fire permits are required for all outside burning when the ground is not covered with snow. These permits are either issued locally by the appointed forest fire wardens or are available online in many communities. Currently there are 165 communities enrolled in the state’s online fire permit system.

Online burning permits are available at https://nhdflweb.sovsportsnet.net/. At this website, permit applicants can view the list of enrolled communities; they may also check town or fire department websites to determine if their community is participating and follow the provided link.

Users whose communities are enrolled establish a user profile on the website. A tutorial provides an overview of the laws and rules associated with each category of permit. Depending upon the community’s pre-determined menu, Category I, II and III permits may be available as well as seasonal Category I and II permits. Each level of permitting is outlined in the system as well as the specifications for fire size, minimum setback from structures and other legal requirements.

The system provides notification to the forest fire warden, fire departments and fire dispatch centers of a permit location, category and duration. There is a nominal convenience fee assessed for the fire permit when obtained through the online system.

“Fire permitting has long been an excellent public safety and fire prevention tool,” stated Steven Sherman, chief of the Forest Protection Bureau with the Division of Forests and Lands. “We encourage permit applicants to utilize the online system, especially during this national emergency, to ensure compliance with the fire permit law while helping to protect the health and safety of the public and our first responders.”

Part of the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Division of Forests and Lands protects and promotes the value provided by trees, forests and natural communities. For more information about the Division of Forests and Lands, visit nh.gov/nhdfl or call 603-271-2214.

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