By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
Lethbridge County’s Manager of Fire Services, Byron Fraser said the county made progress in spring and summer in streamlining several fire-related bylaws and cleaning up some of the languages within those documents to ensure clarity of fire-related regulations. He said the new bylaw is “a one-stop shop for the public and staff to get the information they need,” taking the “I didn’t know” out of the equation.
He added the new online fire permitting system provides explicit parameters which “clarifies in-detail rules and regulations around fire permits and burning. Between myself and our Community Peace Officer, we have noticed a reduction in non-compliance. With the new permitting system, they get permits directly to their cell phone along with notifications of fire advisories, restrictions, bans, and anything we feel is necessary to let them know.”
More concise communication from the County of what is allowable, and a dedicated presence patrolling and enforcing these rules has also made an impact.
“Another aspect that I believe has helped with compliance and safe burning is that the citizens know between the Community Peace Officer and myself are out and about checking on compliance and making sure they are being safe for their neighbours and the county.”
What the fire bylaw has done is made it clear what is acceptable and what is not regarding burning receptacles and practices.
“We also offer a free inspection for burning barrels and other fire receptacles so citizens can be confident that they are complying.”
“Moving into the winter months we will be putting out on our social media different public awareness publications.”
Fraser said, “people have heard the basics over,” but said reviewing the process is always a good idea. Last week saw weather of every season; the weather can turn from clear and sunny to snowy and windy quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours. Fraser said people should know the risks. Weather and quickly deteriorating road conditions mean the potential to be stuck out in the elements.
“Make a plan: what will you need if something goes wrong, get stuck on road for an extended length of time, get into an accident and need to be out of a vehicle in extreme conditions, even just through a prolonged power outage at home, etc.,” Fraser said.
He added, for emergency preparedness, it is a good idea to create a support network of people who have a good idea about any special health needs, and to have written down any details with respect to, “Accommodation needs, insurance information, allergies, medical conditions, emergency contacts, medication, family medical history, recent vaccinations, health screenings, and surgeries.”
Fraser encouraged readers to have an emergency kit prepared. “Not just for your vehicle, but your house as well.” Comprehensive guides and checklists to help build these kits can be found online.
With long-delayed snow, finally rearing its head in southern Alberta, now is a great time to revisit some of the basics and have a plan in place.
“Have a safe and healthy winter season. Think of others and lend a hand when needed,” he concluded.