New rules boost protection for wildfires

Spotlight Staff
Albertans are reminded to take precautions to prevent forest fires as new wildfire protection regulations take effect March 31, says a government news release.

“Last fall, we passed important legislation to help deter unsafe behaviour and give our wildland firefighters more tools to keep Albertans and their communities safe,” says Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier, MLA for Whitecourt – Ste. Anne.
“These strengthened regulations send a clear message that we all share a responsibility to help prevent wildfires.”

Enhancements to the Forest and Prairie Protection Act regulations include:

-New penalties for infractions such as leaving a campfire unattended or burning without a permit.
-Restrictions on the use of fireworks or exploding targets in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta without written permission from a forest officer.
-Improvements to flammable debris disposal and other industry-based requirements.

Individuals who knowingly contravene the Forest and Prairie Protection Act by starting a wildfire can be fined up to $100,000 or face imprisonment for up to two years.

Industrial users who knowingly contravene the Act and start a wildfire can be fined up to $1 million.

Corporations may also face penalties of up to $10,000 per offence per day for less severe industrial-based violations of the Act and regulations.

Effective May 1, officers will be authorized to issue tickets for contraventions, like leaving a campfire unattended.

Depending on the infraction, individual fines for specific violations could result in tickets ranging from between $172 and $575.

Activities that interfere with the fighting of a wildfire, such as the unauthorized use of drones near a wildfire, are considered more severe offences and will result in an automatic court appearance.

In 2016, Alberta wildfire crews fought more than 1,300 fires that consumed more than 600,000 hectares.

About 70 per cent of wildfires over the last five years have been linked to human activity.

If you see a wildfire, please report it toll-free at 310-FIRE (3473).

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