Indoor Fire safety
When talking about fire safety we have to think about two types, indoor and outdoor. Indoor fire safety revolves around the precautions that should be taken to ensure maximum safety for your property and loved ones. Outdoor fire safety deals with any fire that takes place outdoors, from a campfire to burning leaves on your property.
Let’s start with indoor fire safety. One of the most important prevention tools are smoke detectors or alarms. It should be known how smoke alarms work and they should be tested regularly. The fire code of Ontario requires you to have them on each level of the residence and outside all sleeping areas. If you have a wood burning or fossil fueled appliance a carbon-monoxide alarm is recommended.
If the residence is properly protected it is also important to develop a fire escape plan. Distinguish which family members are responsible to help guests and people who may have trouble escaping on their own as well as pets. It is wise to keep your cell phone and keys in a convenient area so that they are easily retrieved while making a hasty exit. Make sure you keep all local emergency numbers as well as directions to the residence in a designated spot so that everyone knows they are there.
One big element that is overlooked is the chimney, more accurately the cleaning or sweeping of the chimney. If you have a regular fireplace chimney it is recommended that you get it swept or cleaned once or twice a year. If it is a gas burning fireplace once a year is recommended. For a wood burning fireplace it is recommended to be cleaned every 3 months while in use.
Another commonly overlooked fire risk is leaving candles unattended. Candles should never be left unattended as they can tip over or melt down and possibly start a fire. Make sure to install fire extinguishers throughout the residence and make sure that you know how to use them. Ensure that they are maintained and have enough pressure as per guidelines established by the manufacturer. When fighting a fire with an extinguisher make sure to have an escape route behind you just in case the fire becomes unmanageable.
When you are finished with your fire proper disposal of the ashes is a necessity. Allow the ashes to cool sufficiently and place them in sand or mineral soil in a steel bucket, and then spread or bury them. Or treat them like a campfire and put water on them.
There are many precautions that come with fire safety and these are just some of the larger points, again knowledge is the best method of prevention, always continue to educate yourself about the risks that come with fire indoors.
Some Outdoor Fire Safety Tips
When dealing with outdoor fire safety there many guidelines and rules that must be followed, the most important of being the Current Fire Safety rating or restricted fire zones. There are many ways to determine the current rating, and if an area is restricted. The simplest way is to spot signs that are located along roadways, at camping spots, and at gas stations and stores in the affected area. Large ads also appear in the newspaper and announcements happen on the radio and on local television stations. As well as by calling the district at 705 687 8977 or toll free at 1 877 847 1577. In restricted fire zones, except in an organized campground, you are not allowed to have camp fires including in fire pits or fireplaces, burn grass or woody debris, or use burn barrels. If you do not occupy or own a building in a restricted fire zone you cannot use a charcoal instillation, a wood burning stove, or a wood burning furnace. Once you are in a restricted fire zone it is illegal to set a fire for any purpose within the affected area. Failure to follow these rules could result in a fine of up to $1000, 3 months in jail, and the financial responsibility for any costs incurred in fighting a forest fire. Also report any fires you see in a restricted zone by reporting it to your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry District Office.
When in a Restricted Fire Zone you should exercise extreme caution. Always watch your propane or gas equipment carefully. Smoke only when you are stationary and never while hiking, walking, or working in the bush. Make sure that all matches or cigarettes are extinguished before disposing of the accordingly. Be careful with anything that could start a fire!
When a restriction is in place it is usually due to one of 2 reasons. First, when the outdoor conditions are extremely dry. Second, when the number of fires occurring has stretched firefighting resources to capacity. A Restricted zone is a temporary measure for extreme circumstances and will be lifted as soon as conditions allow.
Camp Fire Safety
Camp fires or fire pit fires are always a fun pastime while at the cottage or camping. However there are some tips and guidelines you should try and follow when setting up one of these fires. First pick as site that is close to a water source and sheltered from the wind. Then build the fire on a rock surface or bare dirt, at least three meters away from logs, stumps, or overhanging trees and at least 15 meters from any tents or buildings.
After you have chosen the site it needs to be prepared for fire safety. Clear the space for the fire, preferably about 2 meters wide. Remove pine needles, grass, twigs and leaves and scrape the area right down to the soil. Make sure you have a pail of water and a shovel to control the fire.
Once the site is complete we can move on to building the campfire. It is recommended that you keep your fire small, meaning it should not exceed one meter high and one meter wide ideally. Small fires are safer, easier to control and easier to put out in case of an emergency, as well as keeping cooking tools from blackening and allowing you close enough to cook!
NEVER leave a campfire unattended! If you start a fire you are the person responsible for tending it and ensuring it is kept under control. You are also responsible for extinguishing the fire. Speaking of extinguishing the fire there are a few measures we can take to ensure safe, putting out, of the fire. First pour lots of water onto the fire, then stir the ashes with a stick, then pour more water over the ashes. These steps need to be repeated until the ashes don’t hiss, everything looks wet, and no more smoke comes from the ashes.
Children should always have adult supervision when they are around a fire. They should never play with matches or fireworks, and should be instructed that if they see a fire burning out of control to tell an adult immediately.
Burning Wood, Brush or Leaves
If you intend to burn wood, brush or leaves outside your residence there are a few rules that you need to know. First if you intend to do this burning between April 1st and October 31st you generally need a permit unless certain criteria are met. These include having the conditions to burn the material safely until it is extinguished. Taking the steps necessary to tend to and control the fire, extinguishing it properly when finished. Also as spoken about before, regardless of permit or land ownership, one is not to have an open fire in a restricted fire zone.
If you are burning wood, brush and leaves you don’t need a fire permit if you follow certain rules. If the fire is ignited no sooner than 2 hours before sunset and extinguished no later than 2 hours after sunrise. Only one pile may be burnt at a time and the pile must be less than 2 meters in diameter and 2 meters high as well as 2 meters from any flammable materials. Make sure you also have the appropriate tools or water to adequately contain the fire at the site, always having a responsible person to tend the fire until it is extinguished.
If you are using an incinerator to burn piled wood, brush or leaves you also do not need a permit if you follow the rules. These include ensuring the incinerator is an enclosed device constructed entirely of non-combustible material and that is covered in a screen having a mesh size of no more than 5mm. It is also a necessity that the incinerator is kept a minimum of 5 meters from any forest area and at least 2 meters from any flammable material or materials. As always ensure that the incinerator is monitored by a responsible adult until it is extinguished.
Burning Grass or Leaf Litter
If you are burning grass or leaf litter at your residence or on your property you do not need a fire permit if you follow certain rules. The fire must be ignited no sooner than 2 hours before sunset and extinguished no later than 2 hours after sunrise. The total area to be burned must be under one hectare and the flaming edge of the fire must not exceed 30 meters in length. As always make sure that you have the necessary tools or water to properly contain the fire at the site and ensure the there is a responsible adult to tend to the fire until it is extinguished.
All in all fire is no joke and these are just a few techniques that will allow you to fire proof your residence or property. Remember the best prevention is education so keep learning about fire safety when you can!