Fire department fired up about illegal burns: $500 fines loom

The Abbotsford fire department is going to “burn” anyone who sets illegal outdoor fires.

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Chief Don Beer has implemented a zero tolerance policy for those who set outdoor fires with the city’s summer burning ban being in effect.

“We normally give people the benefit of the doubt when we respond [to an outdoor fire] and take the opportunity to educate them about the ban,” said Beer.

“If it’s a first offence we usually just warn people and flag the property, but the last little while, with the dry weather, we felt it necessary to give people a real heads up [about the ban].

The fire department has responded to more than 50 calls for illegal outdoor fire since the ban started June 1.

Those violating the ban will get a $500 fine.

If people burn illegal material such as plastic, garbage, construction waste or land clearing debris, they’ll be subject to an additional $500 penalty.

Property owners not following regulations may also have to pay the costs of having the fire department respond.

Beer said the illegal outdoor fires generally occur in rural areas outside the city’s core area.

Consequently, Abbotsford residents and their property are at an increased risk due to a lag in response time by fire crews who have to come in from rural locations.

What’s more, illegal outdoor fires can easily get out of control during dry weather.

“The speed at which an out of control fire can advance based on dry vegetation is a real danger,” said Beer.

The bulk of wild fires are set by humans, he said.

Just last weekend Abbotsford Fire Rescue had to scale Sumas Mountain to put out a campfire gone wrong.

As such, the fire department is issuing a friendly reminder that with the dry weather and burning ban, all outdoor burning is prohibited.

Outdoor cooking can only be done with the use of charcoal briquettes, or a gas or propane fuelled barbeque.

The burning ban includes the entire municipality of Abbotsford and runs until Sept. 30.

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