ONTARIO – Starting April 3, Ontario’s entire legislated fire region will be designated a restricted fire zone (RFZ). Residents who live in an area with an RFZ cannot have an outdoor fire—this includes burning of grass, debris and campfires, even when using an outdoor fire grate, fireplace or fire pit. These restrictions are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in place until further notice.
“This was a topic we were looking at as a municipality. We intended to do this on our own as a township,” said Ken Noland, reeve of the township of Burpee and Mills. “Don’t need someone starting a fire unnecessarily and having our fire department stretched. This action by the province will protect firefighters and residents in the province, so it is a good decision. We need more of this from the top down on other issues.”
Mike Addison, fire chief for the Gore Bay-Gordon/Barrie Island joint volunteer fire department told the Recorder, “what the province has done is a real good thing. I got the call yesterday on this action being taken by the province. Locally a municipality can impose a fire ban, but then it is something the municipality has to enforce itself. With the restricted fire zone, the province enforces this.”
Mr. Addison noted, “two years ago we had a very dry summer and the fire department was getting reports of fires nearly every day. The province making the RFZ provincially mandated is a good thing. Hopefully this provincial fire restriction will reduce the number of fire calls we will receive.”
“During this very challenging time when we are fighting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of Ontario,” said John Yakabuski, minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “We are putting these important preventative measures in place now to ensure that our emergency responders are able to focus their efforts where they are needed most.”
This restriction will remain in place until Ontario’s ability to respond to emergencies is no longer impacted by the pandemic. Local municipalities are working to update their websites with information for residents. Meanwhile, Ontarians can learn about the rules under a Restricted Fire Zone at Ontario.ca/page/