Fire-starters face fines
Burning prohibited items could cost plenty.
This is the message the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is hoping the public will hear.
On May 4, Celista’s Avery Dean Shoaf pleaded guilty to a charge of burning a large pile of prohibited materials, including waste from a demolished building – an action that cost Shoaf $575.
Compliance staff issued the ticket last April, after being informed of the incident by the Celista Fire Department.
Shoaf got off lightly considering the maximum penalty for burning banned substances is $1 million under the Environmental Management Act.
As well, those who are convicted under the act could spend up to six months in jail.
“Burning prohibited materials, such as tires, plastics, drywall, demolition waste or treated lumber, can result in hefty fines,” reads a May 26 information bulletin from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“Government bans certain items from burning to prevent the release of dangerous toxins into the environment.”
Columbia Shuswap Regional District Fire Services Co-ordinator Jack Blair says because there are no regional district burning bylaws, CSRD has no authority to ticket.
“But fire departments have the authority to extinguish the fire if it is deemed to be a hazard to life, property or the environment,” he says, noting when firefighters come across illegal burns, they put them out, take photos and document the scene. “And they will inform the compliance enforcement officers, who typically will send out somebody to investigate and charge the homeowner or occupant.”
Blair says a recent fire services review recommended a more extensive education program, something that was planned for 2013 but will likely be brought forward to 2012, he says. But the message may finally be reaching a wider audience, he adds.
“My phone has never rung so often as it has in the last year, with people asking about burning regulations, asking if they need permits,” he says.
Meanwhile, open burning of non-prohibited materials, such as untreated wood and yard waste, is also regulated by municipal bylaws, the Wildfire Act and the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation.
For advice on planning legal burns, contact your local government, visit http://bcwildfire.ca/Restrictions/BackyardBurning.pdf.
To report an illegal burn or forest fire, call 1-800-663-5555 or the Kamloops Fire Centre at 250-554-5500.