As the devastation from wildfires continues to plague communities, and people, across B.C., Surrey firefighters continue to battle a significant number of brush and grass fires in this city.
Between May 1 and Aug. 14 of this year, the fire department has responded to 334 such fires.
Of those, 136 were in July, and 60 were between Aug. 1 to 14.
There was a two-day period in July where firefighters fought 20 grass fires.
Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Jason Cairney noted the number of these fires in Surrey is “trending in a very similar way to last year’s fires.”
Between May 1 and July 26 of 2017, firefighters fought 256 brush and grass fires in this city. Cairney said at the time that the majority of these kinds of fires “are caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes.”
In July of 2017 the Surrey fire department launched its Brush Fire Sign Campaign.
Signs are posted where a fire crew has tackled a brush or grass fire, as well as in high-traffic areas like medians and entrances to city park trails.
Of all causes of these types of fires, says Surrey Battalion Chief Spiro Pegios, motorists chucking cigarette butts out their windows is still “a big” one.
“That’s a big one, yeah. Big time,” he said last month.
“You know when people are driving and they just throw them out and it’s bark mulch, the garden boulevards. Those that throw them out, I’m not sure if sometimes they think it’s out or if they just throw it maliciously and not have any regard, but it’s sad.”
Surrey’s local fire danger rating today (Aug. 16) sits at extreme, the highest possible rating.
City staff monitor BC’s Wildfire Service Fire Danger Rating on a daily basis during hot and dry summers to determine the day’s fire danger rating in Surrey.
The city provides these tips to safely enjoy the outdoors and help prevent fires:
- Dispose of smoking materials properly and make sure they are completely extinguished. Never dispose of cigarette butts out vehicle windows or in planter boxes.
- Don’t leave barbecues unattended and ensure they are turned off properly after you have finished using them. Keep barbecues at least one metre (three feet) away from the side of buildings.
- Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.
- Properly dispose of bottles and broken glass you find outdoors to avoid them magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire.
As outlined in the city’s Fire Prevention Bylaw, there is no open burning permitted in Surrey.
This means backyard fires, fire pits, chimneas, and any other type of outdoor burning other than propane or natural gas fire pits are not allowed.
In addition, briquette barbecues are not permitted in city parks and no burning of any solid fuels is allowed at any time unless the fire is compliant with the Fire Prevention Bylaw.
Cooking fires, campfires, and the burning of garbage are also prohibited in the City of Surrey.
Chimneas or any other consumer product that is built for the burning of wood is not permitted.
Natural gas, propane or charcoal briquettes are allowed in the city, as long as they are being used in ULC/CSA-approved devices for that particular product.
-With files from Tom Zytaruk