UPDATE - The County release a statement Aug. 12, cancelling the fire advisory.
As conditions in Rocky View County (RVC) grow hotter and drier this month, RVC Fire Services issued a fire advisory Aug. 2 – one Deputy Fire Chief Gary Barnett said will likely remain in effect for the remainder of the summer.
“It’s just that first level of caution, for people to be aware that the weather is changing and we’re getting towards that high risk,” he said.
RVC will often follow the province’s lead in instituting fire advisories and bans, Barnett said, while examining conditions within the county and considering factors such as temperature, moisture and wind.
Currently, according to albertafirebans.ca, zones along the Alberta-British Columbia border and neighbouring municipalities such as Cochrane and Chestermere have also instituted fire advisories.
Under a fire advisory, Barnett said permit burning in the county is banned and all outstanding burning and firework permits are suspended until further notice, but the advisory should generally not encroach on “people’s enjoyment of the summer.”
“Within the advisory, you can still use your camp stoves, and your barbecues, and your fire pits and things like that,” he said.
Despite recent rainfall, Barnett said, conditions across RVC remain conducive to fires, as the heat can quickly dry out the moisture.
“In the county, being such a large area, we could have people in Bragg Creek saying, ‘It’s wet down here, are we allowed to have fire?’ and we’ll say no, because in the northeast and the northwest it’s a lot more open, the wind is a [greater] factor and it’s really dry,” he said. “Sometimes, you think you should be able to burn in damper areas, but with the fire advisory, it’s a county-wide thing.”
Depending on future conditions, Barnett said, the municipality may upgrade the fire advisory to a fire ban, at which point burn barrels, recreational campfires, incinerators and solid-fuel barbecues will not be permitted – propane or natural gas barbecues and fire pits may still be used.
“If we have another long period of dryness, there’s a very good chance we could move into a ban,” he said.
The bans are enforceable, he noted, and fines could be levied if someone is found to be contravening fire restrictions.
Regardless of the level of fire restriction in place, Barnett said, RVC residents should always observe fire safety precautions during the summer. These guidelines include never leaving fires unattended, being aware of current conditions such as wind, completely extinguishing fires when you’re done and safely disposing of cigarettes and smoking materials.More information on current fire restrictions can be found at rockyview.ca by searching “Fire Ban,” or on albertafirebans.ca. Barnett said the County will also notify residents of any changes through Safe and Sound and RVC’s social media pages.