No backyard fires for a month

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Like hanging out with the immediate family around a backyard campfire during the COVID-19 pandemic as the weather warms?

Cross that off your can-do list.

Effective immediately, Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency Services have suspended all permits issued for recreational fires, campfires and fire pits within the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

It’s because fire service officials are worried firefighters could potentially be exposed to COVID-19 by attending a fire call for a backyard bonfire.

“This is an early notification of action we will be taking today to continue our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Fire Chief Chris Case said in a press release. “It’s coming to the time of year when we see an increase in fire pit calls. The suspension is in place to protect the community, by seeking to reduce the potential for gatherings and to protect first responders from any possible exposure.”

This ban will be implemented under section 7.1 of the Bylaw: “The fire chief official or designate may issue a burn ban on any or all open-air fires or may suspend without recourse any or all burn permits’. 

The suspension of recreational permits will be in place for 28 days while officials monitor the situation and await notification from provincial and federal levels of government if community safety controls are to be amended.

During this time, the sale of all permits issued for recreational fires, campfires and fire pits will stop, however, the expiration of the any pre-purchased 2020 recreational permits will be extended by 28 days due to the burn ban.

According to Whitney Burk, a public educator with the fire service, the purpose of the suspension on recreational burn permits is to reduce “the potential burden on fire crews, 911 dispatchers and police colleagues in dealing with these non-emergency type calls during the pandemic. It will also serve to improve safety by preventing the potential for fire spread and reduce the temptation to engage in social gatherings.”

Burk added C-K Fire receives about 250 calls a year pertaining to backyard fires, about a call every day and a half.

There will not be restrictions on agricultural fires, however.

Anyone with questions can contact C-K customer service at 519-360-1998.

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