The wildfires in Alberta this month are a sad and scary reminder about the dangers and damage fires can bring when climates are dry and warm like they are this time of year. Although Calgary and Airdrie are not currently under fire bans, a basic awareness on backyard fire pit safety, will keep residents and communities safe all summer long.
Bylaws and regulations for backyard fire pits vary depending on the city, but here’s some general guidelines for keeping your fire pit safe:
- Burn only permitted, dry materials: when using your fire pit, burn only materials that are safe and permitted to burn (ex: dry firewood, paper, kindling, etc.). Burning other materials can cause adverse reactions to heat and flame, and can also cause dense smoke which is harmful to people.
- Be courteous about smoke: the smoke from outdoor fire pits can cause negative health reactions to certain people, namely those with lung problems, the elderly or children. Be courteous about your fire pit smoke, and consider cautioning your neighbours before using your fire pit.
- Be aware of wind conditions: certain wind speeds can make for dangerous conditions for fires, even if they are in contained pits. For example, high winds can lead to a greater risk of a fire spreading outside of a pit, and low winds can make it more difficult for smoke to dissipate.
- Install a grill or screen: the presence of a grill or screen on your fire pit will help prevent sparks or embers from escaping, it also helps reduce the flame size.
Both Calgary and Airdrie have similar regulations in regards to backyard fire pits:
- Fire pits must be surrounded by non-combustible material like brick or stone (if not in a receptacle).
- Fire pits must not be within two metres of a property line, building or fence, or underneath trees.
- Fire pits must be fully supervised at all times.
In Calgary, not abiding by fire regulations and bylaws can result in fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. Full backyard fire pit bylaws, regulations and contact information for reporting problems, can be found on the City of Calgary website. Fines regarding backyard fire pits in Airdrie can hit up to $2,500. Full regulations and bylaws can be found on the City of Airdrie website. Information on Alberta fire bans and advisories can be found online here, or check the City of Calgary or City of Airdrie websites and social media.