Preventing fires this summer

Times-Herald Staff
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There is nothing like sitting in the back yard around a fire in the summer time.

Firefighters converse at the scene of a house fire at the intersection of Caribou Street West and 10th Avenue Northwest on the afternoon of May 13, 2014.

However, it's not all fun and games. Within Moose Jaw, there are several rules and regulations to prevent fires from getting out of control.

"The big thing is to remember to burn clean, dry wood," said Rod Klippenstein, fire prevention officer for the Moose Jaw Fire Department. "If you are smoking out your neighbours, they are all going to be ticked off at you."

Klippenstein added that homeowners won't legally be able to have a fire in their back yard if they don't have an approved container, with a chimney and a spark arrestor cap. Non-combustible hearth pads or brick pavers are also required underneath a wood-burning fireplace.

Additional regulations can be found at www.moosejaw.ca. The full list of requirements also include having the fire place placed a minimum three metres from vegetation, fences and buildings.

Klippenstein added that keeping your fire a reasonable size is safe and smart.

"Usually it will get called in by neighbours if it's getting too big," he said. "Someone will be worrying about it and our crews will show up and usually shut it down if it gets to the point that your neighbours are concerned."

Klippenstein said the main reason why a fire gets out of control is if the fire is not being monitored.

"If you are lighting a fire up and there is a 100 km wind, that will lead to a spread," he said.

Rural residents often have "controlled burns" on their property. Klippenstein said it's important that these land owners contact the Moose Jaw Fire department to make sure they know the purpose of the fire.

"If someone is driving by on the highway and they see a field lit up, we are going to know not to send our crews on a goose chase," said Klippenstein.

Landowners doing "controlled burns" are also required to call the Ministry of Government Relations 1-866-404-4911 and should remove all potential fuel from their property, including dry grass, yard clippings and litter.

Another piece of advice offered by the Ministry of Government Relations is to pay attention to the weather. Don't burn during, hot, dry or windy conditions. Also, it's important to always have access to water, fire extinguishers and hoses during a burn.

A burning permit is required from the spring until Oct. 31 if you are within 4.5 km of provincial forests. These are available free from the Ministry of the Environment.

Fire bans are put in place in provincial parks and within city limits during dry and windy conditions.

"There is a fire-weather index that guages how much fuel (dry grass, litter, etc.) there is, how dry it is and what the temperatures are and then we would establish if we need to put a fire ban on," said Marty Halpape, director of southern operations and planning for the Government of Saskatchewan.

During a ban no open fires will be allowed and the public will be notified on www.saskparks.net. When city fire bans are put in place, residents are made aware on www.moosejaw.ca.

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Fire Department, Ministry of Government Relations, Ministry of the Environment

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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