Farmstead burns commonly take place in order to remove unwanted houses and other structures before listing a property for sale. While completing a burn on your property might seem like an easy task, there are many stipulations to meet when adhering to this process.
Natalie Torres, Sales Manager at Keefe’s Woodstock Office, has assisted clients with farmstead burns and explains how they can be a viable option for those looking to rid an existing property of a house instead of remodeling it for a real estate sale. “It can present a win/win situation for the person looking to sell a parcel of land and for the local fire department,” she says. “However, inspections must be performed, and permits are required before a house can be burned.”
Ron Wegner has over 28 years of firefighting experience and has served as the Jefferson Fire Department Chief for the past 10 years.
“In small communities and rural areas, many like to donate old farmsteads to the fire departments as it gives us a good training opportunity,” says Wegner. “While we do appreciate these opportunities, it is also important to remember that all the permits still need to be in order.”
Wegner says the first step when completing a burn in Wisconsin, is contacting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to obtain the appropriate permits. Next, the home must undergo asbestos inspection and removal. If the permit is not obtained and the process is not correctly followed, Wegner says it can become very expensive and even lead to citations.
“The DNR sets our roadmap for a farmstead burn and that path needs to be followed down to the last detail,” he states. “We need to see a signed DNR permit before entering the home and it must be certified asbestos free. All vinyl siding and roof shingles may also need to be removed. People who don’t go through the correct channels can find themselves in trouble.”
Beyond the DNR permits and asbestos inspection and removal, it’s also important to be familiar with local, county and state regulations. Wegner says your local fire chief and county zoning administrator are your best sources for information on these regulations.
Finally, Wegner stresses that communication is key throughout the burn process. In particular, he suggests the following when preparing for a controlled farmstead burn:
• Have a clear contractual agreement stating who is covering the insurance liability for the burn
• Contact your local law enforcement in the event a road closure may be necessary
• Reach out to several local fire departments to assist with the burn
• Inform surrounding neighbors of the date and time of the burn
Following the correct processes to complete a controlled burn on a farmstead is very important. The requirements needed for a successful burn vary by state and county, which is why it’s important to get in contact with someone who is experienced in the field.
For assistance, please contact one of our trusted and knowledgeable Farm and Land experts!
by Amy Ryan