April 1 marks the beginning of fire season
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The beginning of fire season in northwestern Ontario is quickly approaching, taking effect on April 1.
With the fire season comes laws, regulations, and potential hazards. Sioux Lookout Fire Chief Rob Favot said fire permits will be required for burning, and they can be purchased in Sioux Lookout and Hudson.
“As of April 1, we follow the Forest Fire Prevention Act plus we have by-law 11-04. It’s entailed that burning starts two hours before sunset and has to be out two hours after sunrise. You must have a fire permit, and you can purchase a fire permit at the Municipal office Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can purchase them at the Fire Hall, mostly during the daytime from 8:30 a.m. to around noon. If you’re in Hudson, you can purchase a fire permit in Hudson at the Hudson Fire Hall on Tuesday evenings. The fire permits are still ten dollars each,” said Favot.
“If you’re going to be burning any piles of brush you require a burning permit. If you have an incinerator in your backyard, you require a burning permit. With the burning permit comes the sunrise and sunset times, so that gives you the option to when you can start burning and when it has to be out. Also, with the permit comes a set of regulations that you follow when you’re burning. Some of the regulations are the piles of fire have to be in a single pile less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high. It should be at least two metres away from any flammable material. It (the fire) has to be attended by a person with adequate tools or water to contain the flames, and it has to be extinguished before you leave the fire… With incinerators it’s the same regulations,” Favot explained.
The fire season runs from April 1 until October 31, and fire permits are valid for a full year from April 1 to March 31 of next year.
Along with specific burning times, Favot said wind speeds are an important factor when it comes to burning. Unsafe burning can lead to fines and additional costs.
“Also, you have to take the wind speeds into consideration. In the by-law, when the velocity exceeds ten-kilometres-per-hour you shouldn’t be burning because you’re going to be putting smoke into other people’s yards, or other people’s homes, so that’s something you have to really monitor when you’re burning,” said Favot.
“Fines range from $105 up to $155 if you don’t have a permit, if you’re not attending a fire, or the piles don’t comply. Any time you light a fire you’re responsible for that fire so, if it gets away, you’re going to be liable for the costs to put that fire out, whether it’s the fire department responding or if the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry respond. You’re going to be subject to a fine plus the cost to put that fire out,” he added.
Many residents enjoy their summer evenings socializing around a fire pit, roasting marshmallows, or cooking hot dogs. Favot said enclosed fire pits don’t require a permit if they’re used for cooking, socializing, or warmth.
“If you’re just using it for entertainment, cooking, and warmth, and it’s in an enclosed fire pit, then you’re not required to have a fire permit. You have to burn chopped wood in those fire pits. If you’re burning big piles of brush or big piles of grass then you require a fire permit. If you’re just sitting around and you’re cooking marshmallows or hot dogs, and it’s in a contained area, then you’re not required to have a fire permit because it’s cooking or warmth,” he said.
Burning brush and using a fire pit isn’t always permissible. Favot said, if the government or the Municipality puts on a fire restriction, there’s absolutely no open-air burning. Restrictions can be caused by lots of heat, no precipitation for a length of time, and the area being dried up.
The fire department does do pre-emptive burning throughout the spring to help avoid potential fires throughout the summer months, especially when conditions are dry.
“We try to do some proactive burning in some areas where we find tall grass or possible good fires can start, so we try and go in the springtime to burn those areas off to do some mitigation to avoid fires in those areas throughout the summer,” he said.
For more information, drop by your local fire hall or go to www.ontario.ca/page/outdoor-fire-rules-and-permits.