Act responsibly during forest fire season
Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are reminded of the regulations that come into play with the start of the official forest fire season, which begins on the island May 1, and in Labrador, May 15.
“The privilege of using our forests for activities like camping, fishing and hiking brings with it the responsibility to take care of our resources,” said Jerome Kennedy, MHA for Carbonear-harbour Grace, the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.
“The official start of the forest fire season is an appropriate time to remind people to be vigilant when they are in the woods, and of the rules which come into effect in the interest of public safety.”
During forest fire season a permit to burn is required, at no cost, for lighting outdoor fires for the purpose of clearing land or burning brush within 300 metres of a forest. The lighting of fires for cooking and camping does not require a permit, but certain forest fire regulations must be followed.
Permits and regulations can be obtained at the regional or district forest management offices around the province.
The provincial government operates a fleet of six waterbombers and four light helicopters which are strategically situated around the province — two in Gander and one each in Deer Lake, St. John’s, Happy ValleyGoose Bay and Wabush — and available to respond should the need arise. If extra firefighting resources are required, the department will avail of the Mutual Aid Resources Sharing Agreement (MARS) that provides for the sharing of firefighting resources among provinces.
In 2011, the department’s fire suppression staff responded to 53 fires — 34 on the island portion of the province and 19 in Labrador. Approximately 593.8 hectares of forest area were burnt — 555.4 hectares in Labrador and 38.4 hectares on the island.
The Department of Natural Resources has seasonal forest firefighters stationed throughout the province. The number to report a fire is tollfree 1-866-709-FIRE (3473), and is available in all areas of the province during forest fire season.