Burning Day

I’m not sure what it’s like in your part of the world these days, but we have been facing -39 degrees Celsius, plus windchill this week in Regina, SK. And since we have at least 4-5 feet of snow, my husband figured it was a good week to get rid of some old moldy round bales that were taking up space around our barn.

There really is nothing funny about fire, as it is a force that must be respected and planned fires must have several precautions in place before they take place. Therefore, you won’t see any funny antics or pictures of Clay’s coat catching on fire on today’s blog – because my husband tries to extremely careful when it comes to burning day. Instead, I thought I might offer a few tips for acreage and ranch owners, in case any of you are also contemplating a planned fire in the near future.

1. Depending on where you live, a burn permit is often required by law before a planned fire can take place. In some parts of British Columbia, open air burning is reduced to 2 separate seasons per year: March & April and October & November. Contact your local rural municipality or municipal district to find out if a permit is required. Applying for one is often a quick and free procedure but if you don’t have a permit in place before you start your fire, that’s when things can get expensive.

2. If the fire department is called by anyone (including your neighbors, highway travelers, etc.) and you have not contacted them first about your fire, and/or do not have a permit in place, they will respond and you will be charged for the call out.

3. Certain items are prohibited by law from disposal by burning. In parts of British Columbia, land clearing has been totally eliminated. In Saskatchewan, permits are issued for clean, non-toxic materials only and burning of garbage is not permitted as garbage is to be disposed of at landfill sites. Under the Alberta Regulation 211/96 act, prohibited burn items include:

• Animal manure
• Non-wooden material
• Pathological waste
• Preserved wood
• Tires
• Rubber or plastic, or anything containing or coated with rubber or plastic or similar substance, except rubber or plastic attached to shredded scrap steel.
• Used oil
• Solid waste from sawmills or planning mills with an annual production in excess of 9500 cubic meters of lumber.
• Waste material from building or construction sites excluding wooden material that do not contain wood preservatives.
• Combustible material in automobile bodies
• Wood or wood products containing substances for the purpose of preserving wood.

4. In Saskatchewan, it is the responsibility of the permit applicant to ensure the police/RCMP and local fire department are contacted once a permit has been put in place and prior to the burn commencing. The applicant must also provide a phone number at which someone can be contacted at all times during the burn.

5. If the fire department cannot reach you at the number you have provided, they will respond and you will be charged. False alarms that are responded to by the fire department will also be charged for.

6. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the fire is supervised and controlled at all times. Some tips for keeping controlled fires controlled are as follows:

• Plan for your fire to take place FAR away from your home or other buildings on your property, (at least 50 feet from structures) and on a non-combustible surface. In the winter, you may also be able to build walls of snow around it. Or you may also use a tractor to dig a trench around the fire area before the fire is started, to help contain it.

• Avoid using flammable liquids such as gasoline to start the fire.

• Maintain close supervision of children and pets.

• Have an adequate supply of water available to extinguish or control the fire if need be.

• Pay attention to wind conditions and potential spark hazards.

• Always have your fire department’s number on hand, should an emergency arise.

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