Bonfires are allowed on Halloween night in Saanich as long as the person lighting the fire has a permit and the guidelines are followed. (Simpsons fan 66/Wikimedia Commons)

Fire permits are mandatory in Lacombe County beginning March 1

Lacombe County is reminding residents that effective March 1, burning without a fire permit will result in a hefty fine.

Fire permit season starts on March 1 and burning without a fire permit will result in a hefty fine.

“Fire permits are free of charge and easy to obtain,” said Drayton Bussiere, Lacombe County Fire Chief. “Permits are essential to public safety and burning responsibly, and are there to ensure the safety of Lacombe County residents and their neighbours. While most controlled burns in the County are permitted, we continue to have situations where people don’t take out a permit and can be charged under the bylaw. ”

In recent years, spring has brought drier conditions very quickly, resulting in fire bans. Under Lacombe County’s Fire Protection Policy, anyone found burning without a permit will be required to pay for the fire department response fees. A flat rate of $300 will be charged for responses not requiring fire suppression where a person is in contravention of the Forest and Prairie Protection Act for failure to have a fire permit or any other provision of the Act.

The county is also reminding those burning in the colder months to check their winter burn piles.

They say it’s important to burn safely throughout the year, whether it’s permit season or not. Many producers brush lands and burn the brush during the winter months and it is crucial to check these piles, as they can smolder for many months and be rekindled by wind. Combined with potentially dry spring conditions and the resulting fires can be disastrous.

“Residents are encouraged to check on any controlled burns performed outside of permit season, as larger burns can smoulder through the winter and reignite as it warms up,” said Bussiere. “By participating in the fire permit process and using safe burning practices, Lacombe County residents can help us keep our County safe throughout the season.”

Fires that are started by rekindled brush piles are the property owner’s responsibility and they can also be charged for the fire response.

If a fire department responds to a fire that a permit has not been issued, or if a permit has been issued and the permit holder contravenes any of the conditions of the permit, the property owner will be assessed costs at the following rates:

Fire truck – $500 per hour

Water truck – $300 per hour

Rapid response unit/mini pumper – $300 per hour

Equipment van – $300 per hour

Equipment other than fire apparatus- Lacombe County’s cost

Personnel other than fire department members – Lacombe County cost

Residents can submit their fire permits online through the Lacombe County website and through the myLacombeCounty app. They can also request permits in person at the Lacombecounty office during business hours or by calling the community services department at 403-782-8959 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.