A Message from the Fire Chief Regarding the Fire Ban
April 17, 2020
As we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, I made the decision to implement a municipal fire ban that includes backyard fires. While I recognize that this was not a popular decision, it is my job as Fire Chief to ensure that we are managing our resources effectively and proactively preparing to be able to manage risks and continue providing essential services over the duration of this crisis.
We have a small team of fire professionals on staff, and our department resources are taxed as on top of our regular duties, we run our local Emergency Operations Centre, support the Regional Emergency Operations Centre and are proactively preparing for other seasonal risks including freshet, and wildfire. While it is early in the season, we have already responded to a number of calls regarding campfires, and we are already in a Level 2 danger class – where fires may start easily and spread. We know human caused fires are one of the biggest risks, and by eliminating all wood-burning fires we can eliminate unnecessary calls and risk. The bottom line is we cannot afford to have a preventable fire start in our community.
We are not alone in implementing a backyard fire ban. Kimberley, Crowsnest Pass and much of the Okanagan have bans in place on all wood burning campfires. The Provincial ban on Category 2 and Category 3 fires was also put in place earlier than is the seasonal norm. This was done in part to improve air quality for those most susceptible to this respiratory virus, as well as in recognition of the fact that COVID-19 has forced us to change our response practices to keep responders safe.
I thank the community for respecting this fire ban and working with us to keep everyone safe through these challenging times.