Fire Safety Important as Long Weekend Starts

forest fire

Timmins Forest Fire #9
Forest fire season is starting – This stock image is from Timmins Forest Fire #9 – Photo from MNR

THUNDER BAY – With all of the snow, the lingering winter, it is likely that forest fires are the furthest thing from most people’s minds heading into the Victoria Day long weekend. Sofar, the Ministry of Natural Resources reports that the forest fire situation remains quiet across the Northwest Region.

The City of Thunder Bay Fire Rescue have some safety tips for people across the region who are opening up their camps for the season.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue reminds all campers to protect their friends and families from fire and carbon monoxide.

“Fire safety is just as important away from your home as it is at your home,” said Fire Chief John Hay. “Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are the early warning systems that give you the valuable time needed to escape tragedy.”

Chief Hay recommends following these steps when opening up camp for the season:
Prepare and practice a fire escape plan for your camp or cottage.
Check the age of all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace smoke alarms over 10-years-old and carbon monoxide alarms over seven-years-old.
Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Install fresh batteries in all alarms, especially those in camps that have been closed down for the winter as cold temperatures drain battery power.
Camps or cottages with fireplaces, or fuel burning appliances of any kind, should have a carbon monoxide alarm.

The same Ontario law that requires all homes to have working smoke alarms on every level and outside all sleeping areas, also applies to camps and cottages.

Since April 1 opening of the fire season, there have been seven fires reported in the Northwest Region in the Districts of Kenora, Nipigon, Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay with a total area burned of three hectares.

The forest fire hazard is low across most parts of the region with some moderate hazards in the southern sectors.

Spring training has been a priority for Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services staff as they prepare for forest fire activity in the region. FireRangers are completing courses in First Aid, fire behaviour and skills training, safe chainsaw management and helicopter hover exit training to name a few. CL-415 heavy waterbomber pilots, Air Attack officers and detection aircraft have been doing flight training.

A Low Complexity Prescribed Burn was conducted in and around the First Nation community of Wabaseemoong in the Kenora District. The objective of this burn was hazard reduction in grassy areas along travel
corridors and swamps. Favourable conditions allowed for about 70 per cent of the planned area to be burned. The remaining thirty per cent did not occur as weather changes were not within the prescribed conditions for burning.

FireRangers ignited grassy areas along transportation corridors near Wabaseemoong to reduce the risk of future wildfires that could pose a threat to people and property.

The burn occurred over a period of four days and 79 hectares were burned. It involved Kenora FireRangers, overhead staff and a Community Fire Officer from Wabaseemoong. In addition, two Type 2 crews participated.

The fire is now out.

People are reminded that under the Ontario Forest Fires Prevention Act they are responsible for safe outdoor fire management and must follow guidelines for burning brush and grass. As well campfires are to be tended at all times and put out before leaving.

For more information about the current fire situation and the active fires map, visit www.ontario.ca/fireprevention

Report forest fires in the Northwest Region by calling 310-FIRE (3473) and in the Northeast Region north of the French and Mattawa rivers. In southern regions, forest fires can be reported by calling your local fire department.