Do I need a fire permit?

Fire ban in effect

A fire ban is in effect as of 12 noon May 17, 2018 for Strathcona County. Get more information about the fire ban

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A fire pit with a screen does not require a fire permit.

Fires that require a permit

The following types of fires require a permit. These types of fires are applicable in rural areas only. Prior to each burn, residents must either call 780-464-8464 or text the word "BURN" to 587-340-3696 to confirm that weather and fire hazard conditions allow for burning and the fire permit is valid.

  • Open fires
    An open fire is defined as any fire which is not an incinerator (burn barrel) fire, pit fire, public park site fire or smudge fire. Yard debris or brush fires, bonfires and recreational fires without a screen in place fall under this definition.
     
  • Incinerator (burn barrel) fires
    An incinerator fire is defined as any fire that is confined within a non-combustible structure or container that has the draft and smoke vents covered with a heavy gauge metal screen having a mesh size no larger than 13 mm. The incinerator must be ventilated to preclude the escape of combustible materials including ash.

    This fire is set for the purpose of burning household refuse (paper or cardboard), with the exception of prohibited burning materials.

    Incinerator (burn barrel) fires are allowed in all rural areas on lands greater than 5 acres in size with a valid fire permit. For alternatives to burning your household refuse, check out the Broadview Enviroservice Station

Fires that do not require a permit

  • Recreational fires
    A recreational fire or pit fire is a fire that is totally confined within a non-combustible structure or container that has draft and smoke vents covered with a heavy gauge metal screen and mesh size no larger than 13 mm. The pit must be ventilated in a way that does not allow for the escape of combustible materials, including ash. A fire pit must be situated a minimum of three metres (10 feet) away from other combustible product (e.g. fence, house, garage, deck or trees).

    This fire is for recreational purposes only (cooking or obtaining warmth) and may only be fueled with clean dry wood. At no time should a recreational fire pit be used to burn garbage, leaves, straw or any other prohibited burning materials. Recreational fires which meet these parameters are allowed in all hamlets and rural areas without a fire permit. Use of a fire pit is not allowed during a fire ban.
  • Smudge fires
    A smudge fire is a fire confined within a non-combustible structure or container that is set for the purpose of protecting livestock from insects or for protecting garden plants from frost.

    Smudge fires are allowed in all rural areas on lands 2 acres or greater in size without a permit, except under a fire ban. 

When you are burning

As burning can produce smoke, please be considerate of your neighbours and surrounding residents.

Visibility on adjacent roads, particularly if you are within 800 metres of a primary or secondary highway, must be considered. Placing smoke signs for passing motorists is recommended to ensure safety and reduce smoke investigation calls. Signs are available to loan from the Rural contact offices at Stations 2 and 4.

Brush piles should have a minimum of 3 metres distance from any other combustible. If brush piles are larger than 3 metres x 3 metres x 2 metres, please contact Fire Prevention to schedule a site inspection.

Frequently asked burning questions

  • 1. 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
    • Ardrossan
    • Josephburg
    • 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.

  • 2. What is an open fire?

    An open fire is defined as any fire which is not an incinerator (burn barrel) fire, recreational fire pit, public park site fire or smudge fire. Brush or debris pile fires, bonfires and recreational fires without a screen in place fall under this definition. All open fires require a fire permit.

    Brush or debris piles in excess of 10 ft x 10 ft x 6 ft (3 m x 3 m x 2 m) high require an inspection prior to burning. Please call Fire Prevention at 780-449-9651 to arrange.

  • 3. What is an incinerator (burn barrel) fire?

    An incinerator fire is any fire that is confined within a non-combustible structure or container that has the draft and smoke vents covered with a heavy gauge metal screen. The screen must have a mesh size no larger than 13 mm (1/2 inch) and precludes the escape of any combustible materials, including ash. A fire permit is required to use a burn barrel or incinerator.

    Many users convert 45 gallon drums for this purpose. Care must be taken to maintain this device. Dilapidated burn barrels can release hot ash onto dry ground and cause a fire.

    Burn barrels are used to dispose of household paper, cardboard or other refuse, with the exception of prohibited materials. Burn barrels are not allowed on properties less than 5 acres in size.

    For alternatives to burning your household refuse, call 780-449-5514.

  • 4. What is a recreational fire pit?

    A recreational fire pit is totally confined within a non-combustible structure or container that has the draft and smoke vents covered with a heavy gauge metal screen. The screen must have a mesh size no larger than 13 mm (1/2 inch) that precludes the escape of any combustible materials, including ash. They do not require a fire permit, but are subject to a fire ban.

    Fire pits can include fire pots, bowls, tables or chimineas, and must be situated a minimum of three metres (10 feet) away from any other combustible product (e.g. fence, house, garage, deck or trees).

    A recreational fire may only be fuelled with dry wood, charcoal, coal, natural gas or propane. At no time should a recreational fire pit be used to burn garbage, leaves, straw or any other prohibited burning materials.

  • 5. What is a smudge fire?

    A smudge fire is a fire confined within a non-combustible structure or container that is set for the purpose of protecting livestock from insects or for protecting garden plants from frost. 

    Smudge fires are allowed in all rural areas on properties two acres or greater in size. They do not require a fire permit, but are subject to a fire ban.

  • 6. 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
    • wire
    • insulation
    • 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.

  • 7. 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.

  • 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.

    Contact Utilities at 780-449-5514 or greenroutine@strathcona.ca for more information on Strathcona County recycling stations and other waste removal options.

  • 9. 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.

  • 10. 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:

    • humidity
    • wind speed
    • temperature
    • precipitation

    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.

  • 11. Do I need permit for a chiminea or fire pot?

    Chimineas and portable fire pots (pits or bowls) fall under then definition of “fire pits” and therefore do not require a fire permit There must be at least three metres clearance from any combustible materials and the front opening and the stack must be covered with a metal screen with a mesh size no larger than 13 mm.

    When positioning your chiminea, find a level, immovable, non-combustible surface to set it on. Do not put your chiminea in a gazebo, on a wooden surface or in an enclosed porch. Insulate the bowl with sand or pea gravel to approximately 10 cm below the lower lip of the mouth so that the fire is not in direct contact with the clay.

    Store your chiminea inside a shed or garage during the winter. The combination of freezing temperatures and moisture could cause it to crack. Place it on a pallet or pieces of wood so that air can circulate underneath.

Further information
780-449-9651
fireprevention@strathcona.ca

Last updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018
Page ID: 39021