Home > Fire Prevention > Open Air Burning > Why Does The Fire Department Issue A Ban On Fires?

Warm, dry weather can force the Fire Chief to impose mandatory burn bans to ensure both fire and clean air safety. We’ve compiled answers to your frequently asked questions to help assure you have the facts before you burn.

1. What is a burn ban?

  • An air-quality burn ban (smog advisory) is a mandatory, yet temporary, order that restricts the use of outdoor wood stoves and fireplaces, as well as outdoor burning, when air quality is degraded and human health may be adversely impacted.
  • A dry condition ban is a temporary order that restricts all open air burning to cooking fires on manufactured BBQs.

2. Who can issue a burn ban?

  • A Fire Chief or designate.

3. Why is it called a burn ban?

  • The smoke from burning wood and wood-based products contains fine particles (soot) and a toxic mix of other carcinogens which are harmful to your health, particularly for young children, older adults and people with respiratory and heart disease. During stagnant weather conditions, concentrations of wood smoke can reach harmful levels, so we restrict wood smoke emissions to protect air quality in our neighborhoods and the health of those living there.
  • During dry periods, the number of unintentional fire occurrences are increased dramatically placing our natural resources and personal property at risk.

4. How are burn ban conditions determined?

  • Several Provincial and Municipal guides and indexes are studied and industry  professionals are consulted.

5. How can I find out when a burn ban has been issued or cancelled?

  • We do our best to use all resources available to us to notify our residents and visitors of the status of open air burning permissions: traditional and social media is utilized.

6. How do you know if you are violating a burn ban?

  • If you are using anything that produces an open flame other than a commercially manufactured BBQ that is fueled by propane, natural gas or charcoal you are violating the open air burning ban.
  • Even during traditionally approved holidays, consumer grade fireworks (the kind you can buy at the store) cannot be used.

7. What is the penalty for violating a burn ban?

  • Open air burning that is not approved by the Fire Chief is a violation of the Ontario Fire Code and can result in prosecution under Provincial law.
  • Norfolk County’s open air burning by-law permits by-law officers to issue a ticket for $425.
  • Norfolk County Fire and Rescue Services can recover the cost of fire vehicles responding to your property should a complaint be received.

2 Responses to Why Does The Fire Department Issue A Ban On Fires?

  1. Rick says:

    Just wanted to know if you have or are going to lift the fire ban after the rain we had overnight Thursday/Friday morning thanks rick

    • Scott Pipe says:

      Unfortunately we did not receive enough rain County wide to be able to lift the ban. We will need a prolonged period of rain to make a difference.

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