Amherstburg Fire Department hosts second meeting on proposed open burn bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A crowd of about 15 people attended Amherstburg Fire Station #2 last Tuesday night for the second of three public meetings on the proposed open burn bylaw.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone went over his presentation on the proposed bylaw, but quickly reminded residents that no verdict has been rendered as to whether it will be implemented or not.

“Regardless of the rumours, no decisions have been made by council,” said Montone.

Three council members were in attendance last Tuesday night – Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Diane Pouget.

Montone sad the current open burn bylaw allows for burning for agricultural purposes as long as the Amherstburg Fire Department is notified prior to setting the fire. Camp fires at established campgrounds are allowed with cooking fires also permitted as long as it is put out after the food has been prepared.

Materials such as trash, lumber and pallets, treated wood, tires, newspapers and other paper products, yard waste, wire and coated wire, structures, asphalt shingles, plastics, synthetics, heavy oils, paints and household or agricultural chemicals are not allowed to be burned and that wouldn’t change under a new bylaw.

Montone pointed out since Feb. 2016, there have been 54 open air burning complaint responses at a cost of $12,480. The 54 responses resulted in 19 invoices being issued, meaning $6,975 has been recovered.

Amhersburg fire chief Bruce Montone discusses the proposed open burn bylaw at a public meeting last Tuesday night at Fire Station #2.

Allowable burning that is being proposed under the new bylaw would include two-feet by two-feet campfires, outdoor cooking, recreational outdoor fireplaces, special event activities such as religious ceremonies, forest managing, controlling agricultural pests and diseases and dispensing of debris from natural disasters.

“All municipalities in Essex County have permissive bylaws except Amherstburg,” he said. “Some have permits, some have no permit system.”
Windsor is governed by the Ontario Fire Code.

If a person is approved for a $25 permit, they would be visited by the Amherstburg Fire Department for an inspection and tips on fire safety. The belief is a permit system would allow the fire department a better grasp of what is going on in the community.

“It’s no secret camping and cooking fires take place in Amherstburg without notice,” said Montone. “It is going on.”

Permit holders would also be able to call a hotline or visit the fire department’s Twitter account to see if burning is allowed that day.

Lots that measure 60-feet by 100-feet or smaller still wouldn’t be allowed to have fires, meaning 3,213 properties would be restricted.

Penalties if the fire department has to attend a fire include people having to pay $225 for the duty officer to arrive, $450 if fire crews have to come out with less that six firefighters or $900 if six or more firefighters have to respond.

Residents at last week’s meeting, some of whom did not wish to be identified, expressed concerns with neighbours noting their neighbours already have fires and those fires are closer than 30-feet from structures. Montone suggested that people can have themselves designated as a “sensitive receptor” if they have breathing problems or can call 911 to have a fire crew dispatched to the property where the burning is happening.

“We need to educate the public,” said Montone, adding that sometimes “common sense isn’t too common.”

Patricia Emond suggested a flat $75 fee for town permits, believing the town could make more money and recover additional costs.

Some residents also said they have fire pits in the ground and are just trying to enjoy their properties.

“A lot of us are doing it responsibly and we want to keep doing it,” one woman stated.

The third and final public meeting on the proposed bylaw is Sept. 26 at Fire Station #3 at 7 p.m. An online survey will remain active through Sept. 27 with that found at www.amherstburg.ca and searching for the fire department. The direct link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XVHHBTD.

Montone said the hope is to have some sort of decision made on the bylaw prior to the 2018 burning season.

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