Fire Controls in the Special Areas
The Special Areas Board is responsible for fighting and controlling fires as identified in two acts: the Fire and Prairie Protection Act and the Municipal Government Act. Fire fighting in the Special Areas is made possible through fourteen volunteer fire departments located throughout the region, each with its own Fire Chief. Special Areas Fire Services provides support to volunteer departments through two paid positions: Special Areas Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief.
Fire Control Systems Overview
The Province of Alberta uses a color-coded system for putting on fire bans in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Each level clearly outlines which activities are permitted – and prohibited – when that level of restriction is in place. For more information on the province’s fire ban system, go to https://wildfire.alberta.ca/prevention/fire-ban-system.aspx.
In 2015, the Special Areas Board adopted a similar 4 level color-coded system for managing fire control restrictions in the Special Areas. This system is outlined in policy 16-02, available online. The towns, villages and provincial parks located within the Special Areas manage their own fire restrictions. For the Special Areas, fire control levels are put in place – and removed – through Board Order based on the recommendation of Special Areas Fire Services and direction of the Board . Fire restrictions are then communicated through local newspapers, radio, online, and on www.albertafirebans.ca. By adopting the color-coded fire control system used throughout the Province, Special Areas helped to ensure consistency with the Province and municipal neighbors. This system is also used by Alberta Fire Bans to communicate current fire restrictions throughout the province. Residents are encouraged to check www.albertafirebans.ca for current fire restriction information for their area.
Controlled Burn Notifications
Controlled burn notifications are used by ratepayers to inform emergency services of when they are planning to do a controlled burn. These notifications – like a burn permit in other municipalities – allow local fire departments to be aware of any planned controlled burns and helps prevent false alarms. An easy to use online form was created to allow ratepayers to complete which then alerted local fire services and 911 call centers. This form is available 24/7 when no fire restrictions are in place but is managed through the district offices in business hours when a fire advisory is in place. During a fire restriction or ban, controlled burns are not permitted, and the notification form is not available for use.
Special Areas Fire Control System
Beginning at green and progressing to dark red, these fire control levels increase the levels of restrictions based on the current level of fire hazards. There are four levels of fire controls outlined in the Special Areas Fire Ban Policy:
• No Restriction
• Fire Advisory
• Fire Restriction
• Fire Ban.
Under No Restriction (Green level), controlled burn notifications are available online for any type of burning. Campfires and incinerator fires do not require controlled burn notifications. Safe campfires are allowed in campgrounds and in random camping areas.
A Fire Advisory (Yellow level) is put on when the fire hazard levels have increased, and caution is needed. Controlled burns may be restricted and are managed through local District Offices during normal business hours. Safe campfires are allowed in campgrounds and random camping areas, but may be restricted if conditions don’t improve. Incinerator fires are allowed at a minimum distance of 30 meters away from structures and 3 meters away from any combustible materials.
A Fire Restriction (Orange level) is put in place when fire hazard levels continue to increase. Safe campfires are allowed in ringed/designated campground areas like Prairie Oasis Park, Blood Indian Park (non-overflow), and Carolside Campground. No campfires, other open fires, or charcoal briquettes are allowed in random/non-designated campground areas like the river campgrounds, overflow areas in Blood Indian Park, and rest areas. Gas or propane stove/barbeques and portable propane fire pits are allowed. Incinerator fires are permitted at a minimum distance of 30 meters away from structures and 3 meters away from combustible materials. Existing controlled burns may be suspended or cancelled and no new controlled burns are allowed.
A Fire Ban (Dark Red level) is the highest level of fire restriction in the Special Areas. It is put in place when extreme fire hazards exist and when extreme caution and control measures are needed. At this level no campfires or any other open fires are allowed. Gas or propane stoves/barbeques and portable propane fire pits are still allowed. All controlled burns are suspended or cancelled, and no new controlled burns are allowed.
For more information on fire controls in the Special Areas, contact the Special Areas Fire Services at (403) 779-3733.