County fire ban downgraded to advisory

The County of Stettler has downgraded its total fire ban to a fire advisory as of May 11...

…meaning that while the conditions are improving, they’re still somewhat dry.

“We definitely see more green grass, so we’re less worried,” Etienne Brugman, deputy fire chief for Stettler Regional Fire and Rescue, said. “It’s still dry enough that we’re not issuing permits for big fires.”

Those big fires include brush and building burning. However, the lessened restrictions of an advisory mean people can now enjoy charcoal barbecues and firepits, and do necessary burning – with restrictions.

The advisory prohibits the issuance of new fire permits and the use of fireworks, but allows essential burning in burning barrels, essential burning at municipal regional waste transfer sites, and fire pits.

Burning barrels and fire pits must be constructed of non-combustible materials and be covered by a metal mesh screen with openings no larger than 15 millimetres in size, so embers and sparks are prevented from escaping.

These restrictions apply to the County of Stettler; the Town of Stettler is not currently under any sort of fire restriction.

“I’d say 95 per cent of the bans apply to the county,” Brugman said. “There’s never been a fire ban in town as far as I’m aware.”

The town’s fire bylaw, however, prohibits the burning of waste and refuse in the town limits, though fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and barbecues are allowed.

Fire-pits and outdoor fireplaces must be at least three meters (10 feet) from any building, property line or combustible material, have enclosed sides made of bricks, concrete blocks, heavy gauge metal or other non-combustible materials and have a metal mesh screen (a spark arrestor) to contain sparks.

In addition to these requirements, in-town burning must be done with clean fuel only (dry clean wood or charcoal), and the amount of smoke cannot be a nuisance to neigbours.