Outdoor Fire and Campfire Safety

Please note: under certain circumstances, outdoor burning may be suspended on Prince Edward Island due to risk of wildfire. Before starting any outdoor fire, please check current risk levels at Fire Weather Index

Every year, many people in rural areas burn grasses, leaves, needles and woody debris that has accumulated over the winter. While this is a useful way to dispose of winter debris, it can only takes a minute for a fire to escape. Many people choose to chip branches and compost leaves and grasses because it is an easy and safer disposal method.

However, if burning is the only option you must have a Domestic Burning Permit and can only burn materials such as : 

  • grass
  • round wood
  • brush
  • wood by-products such as bark, branches, needles and leaves

Any outdoor burning on PEI is subject to current weather conditions and local regulations. You are responsible for assessing the risk, controlling fire spread, and covering any damages or costs that may arise fom a fire


Safe Burning Practices

The following suggestions can help to make the job safer and more efficient.

Before lighting an outdoor fire:

  • confirm that your municipality bylaws allow outdoor burning
  • make sure wind and drought conditions are suitable in your area at the time of your fire
  • make sure you have immediate access to a phone to call 9-1-1 if your fire begins to spread
  • practice proper fire etiquette 

Proper Tools and Equipment:

Before you begin ensure that you help to control the burn site and equipment such as:

  • Shovels or spades
  • Rakes
  • Enough water to completely extinguish the fire

Choose the Right Time and Conditions:

Under a Domestic Burning Permit, you can only burn when the Fire Weather Index for your region is Low and wind speeds are less than 10 km/hr. You must also call the number listed at the bottom of your Burning Permit to report every time you use your permit.

Before you begin, try to create firebreaks around the brush piles by raking down to mineral soil, wetting the area, mowing grasses and/or plowing the soil and remember to:

  • if possible, burn these materials in a container such as an old barrel or an approved outdoor fireplace.
  • select a safe place away from buildings and other flammable materials.
  • burn in the early morning or just before sunset when conditions are cooler, humidity is higher and winds are lower.
  • keep the fire small (less than 2 m wide and 2 m tall).
  • gradually add new materials.
  • do not leave the site until the fire is completely out.
  • check any hot embers and be sure to douse them with water or bury them.

Campfires, cooking fires and backyard burning
If you live in an incorporated area with its own by-laws, contact the town or city office for information on local fire regulations.  Click here to find the community contact information for Prince Edward Island's municipalities.

If you are within a rural area, camping, cooking and backyard fires are permitted unless there is a fire ban.  

  • burning permits are not required for small campfires used for cooking or necessary warmth, provided they are built in properly constructed campfire sites. 
  • you must have the permission of the landowner
  • you must have water and fire-fighting tools on-hand in order to extinguish the fire
  • fires should be in an enclosed pit or outdoor fireplace with proper spark catchers
  • burn only small pieces of unprocesses wood. Do not burn construction waste, boards, or wooden household waste
  • you must completely extinguish the fire when you are finished

In all cases, you are liable for any and all damages resulting from the fire, and you must take proper precautions to ensure the fire does not excape.

What is defined as a campfire?

 

  • Small outdoor fire usually held for warmth and/or cooking
  • Held in a contained structure designed for safe outdoor burning or in a constructed pit with a spark catcher.

Last Tips:

Remember to check your local weather conditions and the daily Fire Weather Index, which acts as a good guide to fire risk. 

 

Published date: 
May 14, 2020
Environment, Energy and Climate Action

General Inquiries

Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division
J. Frank Gaudet Tree Nursery
183 Upton Road
Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6450

Wildlife Emergencies:
902-368-4683

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kfarrar@gov.pe.ca