Over the long weekend the fire hall responded to eight calls, but nothing very serious, says fire chief Randy Isfeld.
“We had a call for an assist at 150 Mile, but they had it under control by the time we got there so we turned around and came back to town. They had a grass fire that was inching its way towards a house. However, they had got there and secured the scene,” Isfeld says.
The rest were minor calls with alarms going and one grass fire in Boitanio Park.
“Somebody walking by decided they wanted to see how well the grass would burn. We had a report of one person fleeing the area,” Isfeld points out, adding there is a lot of dead grass around town. In fact, the fire hall will begin its field mitigation work, weather permitting, over the course of the month of April.
Normally the fire department will identify areas in town that could potentially pose a hazard in the event that something happened.
The Stampede Grounds are a prime example, Isfeld explains.
“All the heavy grass we have down there right now. There’s an area in below the well there just off of Western Avenue that we’re looking at. In fact, there are several areas that we’re looking at.”
The idea, he adds, is to get rid of those areas on the department’s terms, rather than having to respond to them on a windy day when the weather is only going to aid the spread of fire.
“We have those people around that get a thrill lighting places up. That’s been the case for a number of years so we try and go around and see if we can’t mitigate.”
Private property is out of their jurisdiction so owners are encouraged to look after areas that might catch on fire easily.
The fire department will conduct controlled burns of long grasses in the coming weeks to mitigate fire risk and to conduct training sessions.
The burns will take place between 6 and 9 p.m., weather permitting in the following areas: Thursday, April 17 at the Gibbon Street Water Tower; Thursday, April 19, on the hillside behind WLSS; Tuesday, April 24, on the hillside behind Boitanio Mall and vacant lot access from the fire hall; and Wednesday, April 25 at the Stampede Grounds hill, below Oliver Street.
Homeowners are being advised that the burns will create smoke, and may therefore wish to take measures to prevent smoke from entering their homes.
Before doing any mitigation burning, fire department personnel will go out and hand deliver flyers, letting people know ahead of time, in case they want to keep their windows closed.
Isfeld reminds people there is no open burning permitted in town, period.
Aside from the risk to setting larger fires, small fires also have an impact on air quality.