Summer has returned, and people across Calgary are heading outdoors to enjoy the warm weather as much as possible. But with summer weather that tends to be dry, fires can start easily, and quickly.
As one of southeast Calgary’s leading landscaping companies, Mirage encourages time spent outdoors. Here are some safety tips for avoiding a fire in your yard.
Understand Fire Pit Rules and Regulations
If you’re planning to entertain guests in your backyard this season, it’s a good idea to take a moment to review fire pit safety tips. Backyard fires can cause major damage if they burn out of control, and in most cases, such consequences are preventable.
The first thing you should do before starting a fire in your backyard pit is to check to see if the City of Calgary has any bans or restrictions in effect. City officials will occasionally call for a moratorium on fires due to the weather, since unusually hot and dry conditions carry increased safety risks. You can check to see if there are any bans or restrictions in effect here.
The City of Calgary has rules and guidelines in place that must be followed if you’re using a backyard fire pit:
- Fires may not be started before 10 a.m., and must be completely out by 1 a.m.
- Fires must be contained in ground-based earthen pits, or in an inflammable above-ground receptacle
- Fires must be at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) away from property lines, fences, houses or outbuildings, overhanging tree branches and gardens
- Fires must be kept to a size of less than 1 metre (3.2 feet) in height and width
- Fires cannot be left unattended
- When putting a fire out, someone must stay until all embers have been completely extinguished
- Hazardous materials and unseasoned firewood cannot be burned in a backyard fire pit
- You must have a means of extinguishing the fire on hand at all times
Fines for failing to observe these rules are stiff; penalties range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.
Common-Sense Principles for Backyard Fire Safety
While the aforementioned guidelines will help you keep your fire under control, you should also consider weather conditions before lighting a fire. If winds are strong, large amounts of smoke may blow onto adjacent properties. Always consider your neighbours and act in good faith to avoid complaints.
You can mitigate smoke by adding a chimney to your fire pit. This will direct the smoke up as it disperses, creating a more even dispersal pattern.
It’s also wise to avoid stacking wood or other flammable materials near your fire pit. Piled items also create a tripping hazard, so put safety first and ensure that all areas around the fire pit are unobstructed.
Finally, always monitor pets and children when an active fire is burning. Never leave kids or animals unattended in your yard while you have a fire going.
Fire Prevention Tips for Barbecues
Barbecues can also pose a fire hazard, and it’s essential to ensure yours is in good working order before using it. Here’s a checklist of things you should do before firing up the grill:
- Thoroughly clean your barbecue at the beginning of the season
- Perform periodic checks to ensure that no grime or debris has built up on or beneath the grill
- Check to make sure the hose that connects the propane tank to the barbecue is intact and free of cracks
- Inspect all connections; ensure they are tight and free of leaks
- To check for leaks, apply a 50-50 mixture of soap and water to all hoses and connections; if bubbles rise, you have a leak
- Repair all leaks before using the barbecue
- If your propane tank is rusted or damaged, replace it
- Have a professional inspect your barbecue if you’re unsure whether or not it is safe and fit for use
Practice Safer Smoking
If you’re a smoker, or if you’re entertaining smokers in your backyard, it’s important to recognize fire risks. Improperly discarded cigarettes are a leading cause of backyard fires, especially during hot, dry weather.
Dispose of cigarette butts in a proper receptacle; fill an empty can halfway up with water, and use it as an ashtray. Alternately, provide a bucket with sand, and tuck the burning end of the cigarette below the sand to put it out. Always make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished, and never discard them on the grass.
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