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Fire-Rescue reminds public of heightened fire risk

By Don Fennell

Published 4:21 PDT, Tue July 30, 2019

A large plume of smoke persisted in the skies over Richmond for several days last summer, the sun dimmed by an eclipse-like sensation.

A large plume of smoke persisted in the skies over Richmond for several days last summer, the sun dimmed by an eclipse-like sensation.

The cause, a fire in the Department of National Defence lands west of Richmond Nature Park, was quickly contained but it was close to a week before firefighters were able to fully extinguish the blaze.

Richmond Fire-Rescue is reminding residents that potential fire risks are heightened during the dry hot weather, and that fire restrictions are in place. The means open burning backyard fires.

The City of Richmond has also posted signs indicating no fires are permitted at vulnerable locations around the city, including the Dyke Trail near Terra Nova Park, Triangle Road and at Garry Point Park.

“Everyone’s safety is paramount during stretches of dry hot weather such as what we are currently experiencing,” says deputy fire chief Kevin Gray. “At this exact time last year, we were battling an approximately 10-hectare wild land fire near Westminster Highway and Shell Road—the first of its magnitude for Richmond. We were successful in stopping this multi-day technical fire, but many will remember it as a first-hand eye-opener on the vast resources required and the dire effects fire can have on people and the environment.” 

With the ground at the National Defence lands largely peat soil, an environment in which fire can burn quite deeply, firefighters had to ensure all 12 hectares of the burned site was watered square foot by square foot throughout the higher areas.

The July 2018 fire not only taxed resources, but also forced the closure of part of Shell Road for an extended period.

Preventable fires, such as carelessly discarded cigarettes, have accounted for 52 fires in Richmond since June 1, 2019. That equates to 42 per cent of the fire calls the department has responded to in that period.

Tossing a cigarette butt recklessly is among the leading causes of fires. 

The World is Not Your Ashtray – Butt Out Responsibly is Richmond-Fire Rescue’s fire prevention and safety campaign to raise awareness about preventable fires ignited from smokers’ materials. Here are a few tips to help reduce the number of fires caused by smokers’ materials:

• Never discard smokers’ materials out of vehicle windows

• Never discard smokers’ materials on the ground

• Never extinguish smokers’ materials in planted pots, bark mulch or peat moss

• Always extinguish smokers’ materials in deep, non-combustible ashtrays

Make sure matches and cigarette butts in ashtrays are wet and completely extinguished before you put them in a garbage container

The City of Richmond Bylaw 6989 prohibits smoking within nine metres of bus shelters, transit stops and customer service areas including patios, doors, windows and air intakes. The bylaw also specifies smoking is not permitted at public parks, school grounds and City properties. The current fines are $150 for the first offence, $500 for the second offence and $1,000 for the third or subsequent offence. 

The current fire danger rating in Richmond is moderate but could change quickly with a rise in temperature and/or wind speed.

For more information on fire bylaws or bans please, call Richmond Fire-Rescue at 604-278-5131 or follow their Facebook page @richmondfirerescue.

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