Can I burn?
Fire permit holders are required to contact Strathcona County prior to every burn to determine if burning is allowed. Likewise, before discharging fireworks, fireworks permit holders must also verify burning status.
Be considerate of your neighbours. We recommend that residents talk to their neighbours before having a fire to ensure the common enjoyment of outdoor spaces.
To inquire about the current burning status:
- Call the Burning Status Line at 780-464-8464. This is a 24-hour automated line.
- Text the word "BURN" to 587-340-3696 to receive an immediate reply.
Frequently asked burning status questions:
1. Why does the Burning Status Line say burning is not allowed right now?
Fire and fireworks permit holders must call 780-464-8464 or text the word “BURN” to 587-340-3696 prior to each burn to determine if burning is allowed at that time. Emergency Services reserves the right to suspend fire permits without notice at any time when conditions are unsafe for open fires.
There are four basic reasons for this:
- it’s too dry
- it’s too windy (winds are forecasted to exceed 15 km/h as per Environment Canada)
- lack of available manpower (due to other ongoing incidents, Emergency Services would not be able to respond should your fire get out of control)
- a fire ban is in place
This status is evaluated up to four times daily and may change quickly. Therefore, we encourage residents to consider the size and possible duration of their planned burn before proceeding.
2. Is there anything I'm not allowed to burn?
As per Emergency Services Bylaw 68-2000, it is illegal to burn:
- food waste
- animal carcasses and manure
- treated construction materials
- rubber and plastics
- herbicides and pesticides
- any other toxic materials which may produce dense black smoke
- painted, stained or pressure treated wood
- railroad tiles
The above materials must be disposed of by other means, such as using Strathcona County’s Enviroservice events. For more information, phone Utilties at 780-449-5514.
3. Do I need a fire permit?
Fires that require a fire permit include open fires and incinerator (burn barrel) fires. This type of burning is not allowed within:
- Sherwood Park
- North and South Cooking Lake
- Antler Lake
- Hastings Lake
- Half Moon Lake
- Collingwood Cove
Fires that do not require a fire permit include recreational fire pits (pots, bowls, fire pots or chimineas) and smudge fires.
All fires are subject to a fire ban.
Fire permit holders must either call Strathcona County’s 24 hours Burning Status Line at 780-464-8464 or text the word “BURN” to 587-340-3696 prior to each time you burn to confirm that conditions allow for burning at that time.
4. Which hamlets aren't allowed fires that require a fire permit?
Fires which require a fire permit (open and incinerator fires) are not allowed in the following hamlets:
- Sherwood Park (including the urban service area)
- South Cooking Lake
- North Cooking Lake
- Antler Lake
- Half Moon Lake
- Hastings Lake
- Collingwood Cove
Only recreational fires are allowed in these areas. Recreational fires do not require a fire permit.
5. What do I do if I believe someone is burning improperly?
The health and safety of our residents is very important. That includes incidents of excessive or toxic smoke, burning prohibited materials, burning improperly or burning during a fire advisory or ban.
Residents with complaints of this nature are encouraged to call 9-1-1. If it is determined that a resident is burning improperly, penalties may be imposed at the Fire Marshal’s discretion.
6. How do you decide when a fire ban is declared?
Every day during fire season (roughly March through October), Emergency Services compiles and reviews current and forecasted data supplied by active fire weather stations in the area. Factors which are reviewed include:
- wind speed
These factors, along with other data such as the status of ground level fire fuels, are used to create a hazard assessment tool called the Fire Weather Index System.
This system, together with operational factors such as water restrictions and/or the availability of appropriate staffing and equipment due to other events happening in the Strathcona County, determine the hazard level. The hazard level is a primary factor when deciding if a current fire ban should remain, or in times of no fire ban, if one should be declared.
7. What are the penalties for burning illegally?
Any person who ignites, fuels, supervises, maintains or permits an outdoor fire within the municipal boundaries of Strathcona County without a permit or in violation of burning regulations (e.g. during a fire ban) can be fined up to $1,000.
Should the fire get out of control and emergency fire response is required, the person responsible for the fire can be charged the full firefighting costs.
If your fire causes damage to others’ property, you may also be responsible for the costs to repair the damage, whether you have a valid permit or not.
8. Can I burn my household garbage?
Burning household garbage is not allowed on properties 5 acres or less.
A fire permit is required to burn household garbage. Refer to question “Is there anything I’m not allowed to burn?” for prohibited burning materials.
Smoke and odours from burning plastics, food scraps and other garbage are unpleasant for neighbours. It is also harmful to the environment and is a safety hazard.
Call 780-449-5514 for more information on Strathcona County recycling stations and other waste removal options.
9. Where can I find more information about the air quality in Strathcona County?
We all share the air. Open burning and using burn barrels can pose a serious health risk to the people burning along with their families, pets and neighbours.
Strathcona County is a member of the Alberta Capital Airshed, a group committed to increasing the air quality and providing updated information to residents in the Capital Region. Air Quality Health Index values can be found at www.capitalairshed.ca
Before you burn, consider the following:
- let your neighbours know when you plan to burn
- do not burn prohibited materials
- burn only during good venting conditions
- burn only dry, seasoned, organic materials
- burn small, hot and controlled fires
- never start a fire late in the afternoon