How Islanders Can Help to Reduce Wildfire Risk
What is the Local Fire Hazard and how is it determined?
Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) posts the current Local Fire Hazard for the community on all three fire halls and at all three ferry terminals on Salt Spring Island. SSIFR also posts fire-hazard information on the website homepage, local media, Twitter and on Facebook.
Why does SSIFR post Fire Hazard signs?
The purpose of Local Fire Hazard signs is to inform workers of fire risk as it relates to their due-diligence obligations regarding industrial High-Risk Activities under Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD) Bylaw 125
Community members can also use these information signs to guide best practices for their own forest-use activities. Burn Restrictionsmay also be posted alongside the Local Fire Hazard regarding use of land clearing, backyard burning and campfires (see SSIFR Burning Regulations page).
What do the Local Fire Hazard signs mean when: Low, Moderate, High or Extreme?
The words “Very Low (not posted), Low, Moderate, High and Extreme” match a 1-5 scale called the Wildfire Danger Class.
The Wildfire Danger Class is determined by the Wildfire Management Branch of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources (FLNR).
Wildfire Management Branch staff assesses weather data (such as soil and vegetation moisture content, relative humidity and temperature readings) collected at the SSIFR Fire Hall in Fulford. SSIFR receives daily reports from the Wildfire Management Branch. Signs are updated as required.
See the Wildfire Management Branch website for more information about the Wildfire Danger Class.
What do the terms “Fire Watch,” “Early Shift” and “High-Risk Activities” mean?
The SSIFPD Bylaw 125 restricts “High-Risk Activities” during times of heightened fire risk in the province. These activities include work such as mechanical land clearing and use of spark-producing tools (such as chainsaws, mowers or grinders).
Restrictions of activities in response to increased fire risk include “Fire Watch,” “Early Shift” or “Cease Activity” as follows:
After three consecutive days of “Moderate” fire risk, workers must maintain a one-hour Fire Watch with appropriate fire fighting tools.
Once a “High” fire risk begins, a Fire Watch increases to two hours.
After three days of “High” fire risk, workers must follow Early Shift (cease High-Risk Activities by 1 p.m.).
Once “Extreme” fire risk begins, workers must follow Early Shift and maintain a Fire Watch).
After three days of “Extreme” fire risk, workers must Cease High-Risk Activity in forests and grasslands.
A worker conducting Fire Watch must patrol the work site, carry a forest-fire-fighting tool, have the means to report a fire and commence extinguishment immediately upon discovery of fire.
See Schedule B in Open Burning Bylaw No. 125 for a full list of High-Risk Activities.
High Risk Activities
(a) mechanical brushing;
(b) disk trenching;
(c) preparation or use of explosives;
(d) using fire- or spark-producing tools, including cutting tools;
(e) using or preparing fireworks or pyrotechnics;
(f) grinding, including rail grinding;
(g) mechanical land clearing;
(h) clearing and maintaining rights of way, including grass mowing;
(i) any of the following activities carried out in a cutblock excluding a road, landing, roadside work area or log sort area in the cutblock:
….1- operating a power saw;
….2- mechanical tree felling, woody debris piling or tree processing, including de-limbing;
….4- portable wood chipping, milling, processing or manufacturing;
….5- skidding logs or log forwarding unless it is improbable that the skidding or forwarding will result in the equipment contacting rock;
….6- yarding logs using cable systems.
Who do I call to report a violation?
Violations of SSIFPD Bylaw 125 can be liable upon conviction to penalties prescribed by the Offence Act. Under Bylaw 125, Open Burning caused by High-Risk Activities may be subject to Cost Recovery for expenses and resources incurred by the Fire Department to control or extinguish the fire.
Additionally, the Wildfire Regulation and Wildfire Act are enforced by the FLNR Compliance and Enforcement Branch. The FLNR Compliance and Enforcement Branch and the RCMP may also actively pursue violators of these regulations when conditions warrant.
Please refer to the Penalties and Offences section of the Wildfire Regulation, which describes penalties up to $100,000 and or one year in prison for violations. Note that a person responsible for starting a fire may also be charged for all fire suppression costs to the province.
Further information on wildfires, provincial danger ratings and forest restrictions can be obtained by calling the toll-free Wildfire Information number: 1-888-3-FOREST (1-888-336-7378). Questions about SSIFPD Bylaw 125 can be directed to Chief Arjuna George at 105 Lower Ganges Rd. (250) 537-2531. To report a wildfire in the SSIFR district, call 911.