N.L. fire ban regulations clarified

Minster Lisa Dempster says people in Labrador can still have a boil up. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

While there was some early confusion surrounding the government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s open fire ban on the island portion of the province, Minister Lisa Dempster, who represents the district of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair in Labrador, says nothing has changed for the Big Land.

Dempster took to Facebook on Thursday to clarify the confusion for Labradorians.

“Yes you can still continue to have your ‘Labrador Boil up,'” Dempster said in her post.

“Fire regulations have not changed. The purpose of the advisory is to remind folks that you are not permitted to burn debris cleared from your land, etc. Historically, 80 per cent of forest fires in our province have been started by people, so please continue to practice safety at all times.”

On Friday, Gerry Byrne, the Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, the department responsible for the fire regulations, told CBC News the initial government public advisory issued on Wednesday covers both portions of the province. 

Byrne also said back yard fireplaces, such as those surrounded by stone or steel to contain flames and sparks are still fine to use. That also includes use at cabins.

Fires on sand or gravel beaches and in gravel pits are also OK, Byrne said, with adequate water readily available and being near a body of water.

Bynre said the fire ban has been in place for 30 years, but government issued the advisory earlier this year due to several grass fires in the Codroy Valley area of the province. 

Minister Gerry Byrne clarified the rules and regulations surrounding the province’s fire ban on Friday. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

“First responders have had to call out, and that’s the big part of this,” he said.

“They risk life and limb whenever they go out on a call. Well this year they’ve got a unique, a very serious concern over and above that. They risk contracting COVID.”

The actual ban is on lighting fires on forest land or within 300 metres of forest land without a permit — no different than the 30 previous years. 

Byrne said the agricultural industry is exempt from the ban, on burning fields for clearing for example, on owned land. 

You don’t need a permit for an open fire on forest land, however, if you are in a national, provincial, municipal or privately-owned park with a designated fire area, including RV parks, Byrne said rules still have to be followed with adequate water — about 18 litres — on hand. 

But he says some changes are being made for the better.

Under the province’s regulations, all back yard and cabin fire units are supposed to be on legs or supports and elevated off the ground. Those that aren’t have been illegal during fire bans for 30 years, Byrne said. 

The minister is planning to change the regulations to allow for all home fire pits, surrounded in stone for example, to be legal.  

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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