NORTHEAST — With Emergency Preparedness Week being this week, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is reminding Saskatchewan residents that fire safety is everyone’s responsibility and that it's important to follow local fire ban orders.
Steve Roberts, the vice-president of operations with the agency, talked with SASKTODAY.ca and discussed the agency’s roles and responsibilities.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is a Treasury Board Crown Agency responsible for provincial emergency management, fire safety and wildfire management in Saskatchewan. Roberts said when it comes to fire bans, the SPSA can restrict open burning in provincial forests, parks, and crown land.
“While the SPSA can also enact a fire ban for the entire province, typically it is left to each municipality as to when and where burning should be restricted within their jurisdiction. Only in the most extreme situations would the SPSA consider restricting burning in all rural municipalities,” he said.
An up-to-date map of fire bans in the entire province can be found on the SPSA website.
The SPSA website keeps track of current fire conditions and active fires within the province. The number of fire bans can change often depending on the time of year and current conditions. Active fire bans can be found on the map available on their website.
Many municipalities have fire ban bylaws and if it is violated, the fine would depend on the municipality and what their fines and general penalties are.
During a provincial fire ban, as per the Wildfire Act, those in violation can face a fine of up to $500,000 per day (or part day) and/or imprisonment for up to three years. They can also be liable for covering the costs of the resulting wildfire.
Roberts said there a few tips that all people can do to ensure new fires don’t become wild active fires, these are:
- Avoid driving through or parking on dry grass. A vehicle’s exhaust can reach a temperature of more than 538°C. It only takes about 260°C to start a fire.
- Don’t use machines or tools that may cause sparks during dry conditions. If you must use a tool such as a grinder, wet down your working area and have a fire extinguisher handy.
- Dispose of cigarettes and matches correctly. Don’t throw them out of a vehicle.
- Pay attention to the weather. Most grass fires and wildfires start during hot, dry and windy conditions. Don’t burn in these weather conditions.
- Reduce ignition sources. It’s possible to unintentionally start a fire in dry conditions.
- Clear branches, leaves and other debris from your gutter, roof, under your deck and around your property.
- Place your barbeque at least a three-metre distance from your home or other structures and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Roberts said May 7-13 is Emergency Preparedness Week. Saskatchewan residents are encouraged to be prepared with an emergency kit and preparedness plan in the event they have to evacuate their home due to a wildfire, grass fire or other emergency situation. More information on preparing for emergencies can be found on the agency’s website.
Saskatchewan residents can take extra precautions to protect themselves and their homes by taking steps to be FireSmart.