Amid the unseasonably sunny April weather, Saanich firefighters have responded to more than 40 beach fire reports – taking time and resources away from more urgent incidents.
Wood-burning fires aren’t permitted at any time of year, however, “with this weather we’ve had, we’ve seen a lot of beach fires,” Capt. Insp. Carl Trepels of the Saanich Fire Department. While dealing with one beach fire, firefighters often spot more along the beach.
While some beach-users have been adhering to the bylaws and using propane, natural gas or charcoal briquette appliances, most have been illegal wood fires that have to be doused, he said.
In some cases, firefighters have issued fines, Trepels said, noting the ticket for a beach fire can be more than $100.
Making the trek down the beach to deal with illegal fires also takes valuable resources away from major emergencies, he explained. For example, in mid-April, Saanich Fire Station No. 3 was responding to a beach fire at the far end of Cadboro-Gyro Beach when a call came in about an individual in cardiac arrest who needed immediate assistance.
The crew had to run down the beach in full uniform to get back to the truck so they could head to the address and help the individual, he said. This delayed the response time.
Trepels hopes the incident will hit home and serve as a reminder to adhere to the bylaws.
Firefighters have also seen open burning within the Urban Containment Boundary this month and are reminding residents that burning garden refuse is only permitted in rural areas.
From Oct. 16 to April 30, property owners outside the boundary can burn clean, dry garden waste in a pile no larger than three feet in diameter on Fridays from sunrise to sunset and Saturdays from sunrise to noon without a permit.
A $10 permit, is required for fires up to six feet in diameter and for burning on any other weekday from sunrise to sunset. To apply for a permit contact Saanich Fire Prevention at 250-475-5500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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