Victoria firefighters seek power to douse fire starters

Faced with another season of illegal park, backyard and beach fires, Victoria fire prevention officers are planning to ask Victoria city council for the power to slap fines on rule breakers.

Currently, only city bylaw enforcement officers can lay fines of up to $2,000 for open beach or park campfires under the municipal parks bylaw.

“We’re hoping it gives us more enforcement capabilities,” said Insp. Megan Sabell, a Victoria Fire Department fire prevention officer.

“It just drives it home a bit more with people who are flagrantly ignoring the bylaws.”

Firefighters respond to almost 200 calls a year to extinguish beach fires that are still smoldering or have spread, despite the city’s year-round open burning ban.

Sometimes they are also called to backyard fires that have been lit for social gatherings. Occasionally, cooking fires are started in city parks.

“We do spend quite a bit of time and resources attending these situations,” Sabell said.

Next steps in the process include seeking approval from senior fire department staff and city council, hopefully this year, said Sabell.

emccracken@vicnews.com