From March 1st to October 31st, a fire permit is required for any type of outdoor burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta with the exception of a campfire for cooking or warming.
To request your free fire permit, contact your local Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development office by calling 310-0000 or visiting https://wildfire.alberta.ca/prevention/fire-permits.aspx.
Fire permits ensure safe burning practices and allow staff to know where burning is approved, ensuring firefighters and aircraft are free to fight wildfires.
Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development’s mandate is to protect Albertans, their communities and the environment from the threat of wildfire. The Forest and Prairie Protection Act and associated regulations are the primary wildfire based legislation and have a variety of responsibilities and authorities.
While the Act may apply across Alberta, Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development is responsible for wildfire activities (such as suppression and prevention) inside the Forest Protection Area (FPA), which can be described as the forested area of Alberta. Outside of the FPA, cities, towns, villages, summer villages, counties and municipal districts are responsible for wildfire activities, but can always request assistance..
Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility and it is important to understand safe fire practices so that everyone can enjoy Alberta's forests.
Below is a list of potential actions that a Forest Guardian, Forest Officer or Peace Officer may take depending on their level of authority:
Education: Education of wildfire legislative and regulatory requirements is one of the functions of Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development. This is key to preventing wildfires and encouraging compliance.
Fire Permits: A fire permit from Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development is required for all outdoor burning, except cooking and warming fires inside the Forest Protection Area (FPA) during fire season. The responsibility for issuance of fire permits rests with Fire Guardians and Forest Officers. Fire permits are governed by the Forest and Prairie Protection Act and associated regulations inside the FPA. Local municipal bylaws may also require permission for burning on land located outside of the FPA. Consult your local municipality for specific information.
Fire Advisories, Restrictions, Bans and Closures: Periodically throughout the wildfire season, permits and/or campfires may be restricted or prohibited within defined areas of the province. In addition, activities that pose a high risk of igniting a wildfire, like off-highway (OHV) vehicles use, may be restricted when fire conditions are hazardous. A Fire Advisory is the first step in the fire bans system and can restrict permits; further steps such as the Fire Restriction, Fire Ban, OHV Restriction, or Forest Area Closure are then established with a Ministerial Order and penalties for violation may apply.
Information Letter: An information letter may be used for education purposes for any human-caused wildfires and may be used to advise a potential responsible party that they may be invoiced for the cost of the wildfire.
Order to Reduce or Remove (OTR): An OTR is a written, legal instrument and a fire control order. A Forest Officer can issue an OTR for burning contrary to the conditions of a fire permit or can order a removal of a fire or fire hazard under the authority of the Forest and Prairie Protection Act. Non-compliance with an order creates an offence and a violation may be prosecuted accordingly.
Written Warning: A written warning informs the regulated party that they are contravening a specific legislative or regulatory requirement and may recommend a course of action to achieve compliance. Written Warnings create a formal history of the alleged non-compliance and, in cases where a warning is ignored or repeated, it may lead to an escalated enforcement response.
Specified Fines/Violation Ticket: A specified fine/violation ticket is a form of prosecution under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act that allows dealing effectively with easily observable non-compliance (e.g. a person who is burning without a permit or during a fire ban). Ticket amounts may range from $360 to $1,200 per violation. A person can either pay the fine indicated or dispute the charge in court.
Administrative Penalties: Administrative penalties are monetary penalties that are applied by a statutory decision-maker if it is determined that legislative or regulatory requirements have been contravened. Penalties can range up to $10,000 per occurrence per day, and the focus is often on industry non-compliance issues, scaling the penalties to reflect the seriousness of the contraventions.
Cost Recovery: Cost recovery is intended to recover firefighting costs, suppression expenses and other damages suffered by the Crown from the responsible party. This can occur in a number of ways, including through the court system’s civil litigation process.
Prosecutions: A prosecution is undertaken when an individual or a corporation is alleged to have contravened the law and is prosecuted in court. It is often reserved for more serious violations and situations. Under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act, the maximum fine that can be levied is $100,000 or imprisonment for up to two years in the case of an individual, and $1,000,000 in the case of a corporation. Prosecutions can also occur for Criminal Code offenses.
If you see smoke or fire in the forest, call 310-FIRE. For tips on what kind of information we need, visit https://wildfire.alberta.ca/operations/wildfire-detection/report-a-wildfire.aspx
For more information, please contact:
Provincial Information Officer
- Alberta Wildfire
- Alberta Fire Bans
- FireSmart in Alberta
- Alberta Emergency Alerts
- Air Quality Health Index
- Wildfire Smoke and Your Health
- 511 Road Reports
- Emergency Preparation