Saturday, May 7, 2011

Campfires and Forest Fire Season

The season has arrived when we all strive to get the most of the great Newfoundland outdoors. This is perhaps my favourite time for campfires. The trails and places to sit are mostly dry, as are the sticks and twigs which make campfire fuel. Spring also keeps some of that chilly bite in the air so the heat of a fire is most welcomed. Finally, in early May the biting insects are yet to emerge. This gives even the low bug-tolerant person a great opportunity to enjoy the woods.

This great time for campfires aligns with the beginning of Forest Fire season.  Many people are unaware of the regulations pertaining to campfires and, in doing so, place the natural environment at risk of a forest fire.  The 2011 Forest Fire season began in Newfoundland on May 1st, and starts in Labrador on May 15th. You are permitted to have a campfire during Forest Fire season, you just have to do so in line with the regulations. Doing otherwise may make you responsible for a larger fire.

I've pasted in a portion of the Regulations below which show the exceptions. So, get out there and enjoy but be careful.

3. A person shall not light a fire on forest land or within 300 metres of forest land during the forest fire season unless that person lights the fire under the authority of a permit to burn issued by the minister or the minister's designate under the Forestry Act.
48/95 s3; 31/99 s1
4. Notwithstanding section 3, a person may light a fire on forest land or within 300 metres of forest land without a permit:
(a)  in a prepared location in a provincial, national, municipal or private park that has facilities to contain open pit fires when permission to light those fires is granted by a park attendant who is responsible for supervision in the park during the period the park is open to the public and every park shall have fully functional back tank pumps of a type approved by the forest service each with a 20 litre tank filled with water and located at a central point in the park where open pit fires are permitted and provided that there are at least 2 pumps for every 10 prepared sites in a park;
(b)  on a sand or gravel beach or quarry if:
 (i)  the fire is located at a distance of not less than 15 metres from the nearest woods, brush or other flammable material,
(ii)  the fire does not exceed a surface area of 0.4 square metres,
(iii)  the fire is located at a distance of not more than 1.25 metres from a body of water whose surface area exceeds 10 square metres;
(b.1)  in an outdoor wood burning unit if:
(i)  the unit is made entirely of non-combustible materials,
(ii)  the unit completely contains the fire,
(iii)  the unit is screened to prevent the escape of sparks or other burning material,
(iv)  the unit rests on legs or supports and is placed on mineral soil or non-combustible material having a surface area a minimum of 1.5 square metres, and
(v)  the unit is located a minimum of 3.5 metres from the nearest woods, brush or other flammable material;

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