Cigarette butts, glass bottles and carelessness – burning issues for firefighters as grass fires flare-up

Tis the season...

Barrie firefighters will get a refresher tonight (Wednesday) in fighting grass fires.

There were three in the city last weekend. Several have also been reported in surrounding municipalities.

Barrie Fire and Life Safety Officer, Samantha Hoffmann, says it doesn’t take much to light up a patch of dry grass, “Don’t burn garbage. Never throw cigarette butts out of your car windows; make sure your cigarettes are completely extinguished. Don’t throw glass bottles around because we’ve had fires started through the reflection of the sun through the glass.”

And remember, if you’re going to have a recreational ‘burn’ in your backyard you need to get a permit from the city. They’re available online for $22 for the year. (If you don’t live in Barrie be sure to check with your municipality for burning bans and regulations).

The following requirements for backyard fires must be met:

  • you must use an approved Outdoor Solid Fuel-Burning Appliance is designed to use solid fuel, is made of noncombustible materials, is enclosed on all sides, has a spark arresting device for all vents and chimneys
  • the fire must be kept a minimum 4m from any dwelling or structure, 2m from any combustible materials, 5m from the forest or woodland, 3m from overhanging vegetation
  • burning is only allowed from 8 a.m. to midnight
  • burn dry, clean wood only. Burning of yard waste is NOT allowed
  • do not burn when wind speed is greater than 20 km/h, rain or fog is present or when a burn ban is in place.

Hoffmann also sounds another warning about refilling ‘fire pots’ that burn ethanol, “Because ethanol burns so hot, the flames are basically invisible…you might think that the fire is out. As we’ve seen, far too graphically, very often people go to refill it and it will spark and flame-throw, actually, and catch everything in the nearby area on fire.”

The outdoor fuel-burning appliance by-law in Barrie is enforced with zero tolerance, meaning all fires in outdoor solid fuel-burning appliances will be ordered extinguished upon complaint. A second complaint at the same address within a 24-hour period may result in a fine of $305.00.