At this time of year burning without adequate snow cover can result in unwanted fire spread. As well, over the entire area there is a high potential for holdover fires as the current drought codes indicate that fires will burn deep into the ground and continue burning under the snow. Firefighters urge everyone to use caution when working or recreating in grassy areas and to report wildfires immediately by calling 310-FIRE (3743).
From November 1st to February 28th fire permits are not required for burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Although a fire permit is not required you are still responsible for any fires you ignite outside of the wildfire season and residents who are a planning a burn during winter should keep safe burning practices top of mind and follow Alberta Wildfire’s guidelines.
Take the time to properly prepare your burn site. Know the requirements needed to be successful during your burn and how to properly extinguish your site.
Prepare the site:
- Choose a location that is on high ground and so the pile can be 25 meters or more away from structures and standing trees.
- Surround the pile with a fireguard that is at least 15 meters wide on top of bare mineral soil.
- Ensure the pile is clean of dirt so it can burn cleanly and quickly.
Report your site:
- Before burning, notify your local forest area: your start and end dates, description of materials to be burned and the legal land description.
- Signage - check with your local municipal office and/or roadway maintenance company to ensure notification systems are in place.
- Check the weather forecast before you ignite:
- Safe burning practices:
- Have someone on site monitoring the burn the entire time - if it escapes, immediately report it to the local forest area office.
- Have adequate tools, water and equipment on site when burning.
- Only burn what you can control with the equipment, people and weather conditions you have available.
After you burn:
Fires ignited in the winter which are not properly extinguished, can burn underground all winter long and can re-emerge as wildfires in the spring. After your burn be sure to revisit your sites.
- Spread out the remaining material within the pile.
- Soak the area and ensure both heat and smoke are no longer being produced by the pile - it should be cool to the touch.
- Check your burn site multiple times in the coming weeks to ensure it has not reignited.
- If you have any questions about proper burning procedures, visit wildfire.alberta.ca or phone 310-0000.
For more information on brush pile and windrow safe burning practices click here.
Smoke is always a particular concern when burning in the winter. With the risk of inversions and reduced visibility on roadways due to smoke from a burn it’s important to follow best practices. Here are some tips to consider when it comes to the risk of smoke from winter burning:
- Refrain from burning when an inversion is in place or is forecasted.
- Consult local municipalities and authorities on how to mitigate impacts when undertaking larger winter burning projects near communities or roadways.
- Ensure smoke warning signs are in place before burning within half a mile (800 m) from a roadway. For more information on smoke management and to acquire signs, contact your local municipality. If you are outside of a municipality, contact Alberta Transportation. Read over the Recommended Practices for placement and instruction of a “Smoke Ahead” sign.
- Actively manage burn projects to reduce disposal time and smoke impacts.
- Burning debris in stages will allow you to adapt to changing weather conditions and reduce smoke.
- Monitor weather conditions: lower temperatures and lighter wind speeds can result in stronger inversions. The ideal conditions for burning are typically days with average temperatures and wind speeds over 5 km/h.
- Ensure good snow cover in the burn area (more than 15 cm).
- If you do notice smoke reducing visibility on roads, contact Alberta Transportation at 780 644 1851.
For additional information please contact your local forest area office or visit wildfire.alberta.ca
It’s very important to know that all campfires must be fully extinguished no matter what time of year it is. A campfire built on top of snow can easily smoulder in the debris underneath for weeks and even months, and re-ignite when the wind picks up or the conditions are favorable, which could cause a wildfire. This makes it important to continue to do your part to prevent wildfires.
When you’re planning your campfire, choose your site carefully:
- Hard-packed mineral soil or gravel is best.
- Scrape away any flammable material and use extra care around dead grass.
- Keep your fire small and protected from the wind.
- Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished before you leave. Spread the burning material to reduce the heat. Soak it with water or snow, stir up the ashes and soak it again. Use your bare hands to feel for heat. If the ashes feel cold then the campfire is fully extinguished.
For more information please contact:
Provincial Wildfire 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