Act re­spon­si­bly dur­ing for­est fire sea­son

The Compass - - OPINION -

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.

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