Serving Dorchester, Belmont, Thorndale, Thamesford, Putnam, Crampton, Avon, Harrietsville-Mossley and surrounding area

Residents must follow bylaw

when burning debris

Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
Fire Chief Randy Kalan stands beside the sign reminding residents that they need a permit in order to have an open burn on their property.

by Wendy Spence

        Many residents will be burning brush that they’ve accumulated on their property over the winter and debris that resulted from recent ice and windstorms. The local fire department has already responded to a couple of calls from uncontrollable burns and grass fires that have resulted from embers spreading to dry grass. Thames Centre Fire Chief Randy Kalan reminds residents to follow the requirements of the municipal burn bylaw to ensure they and their neighbours remain safe.
        If you are planning an open burn, Google Thames Centre Fire Department and fill out the burn permit. It is also available at the municipal office on Hamilton Road and the FlightExec Centre office during business hours. There is no charge for the permit and it lists all of the information pertaining to the rules.
        It is the responsibility of the person planning a burn to use common sense on the day they hope to do it, as far as wind direction and strength are concerned. A fine might be imposed if there’s a large amount of smoke from the burn that infringes upon the enjoyment of a neighbouring property.
        Only certain products should be burned: wood, wood products, leaves and branches, but not wood-like products or recyclables, including pressure-treated wood, or anything else that would be bad for the environment when incinerated.
        Kalan needs to be contacted to make sure the paperwork is in place. Residents are also required to call Strathroy dispatch before they start their open burn and after it’s finished, so that it’s easy to locate the property in case the fire gets out of control or someone calls in a complaint. A fine could be imposed if the fire isn’t extinguished properly, either by water, with an appropriate product or by infilling with a backhoe. Open burns must also be supervised at all times.
        “Where there’s smoke there’s fire and when diligent people see it, they call dispatch,” said Kalan.
        Should the fire department need to respond to a fire that’s out of control, the rate is $465.42 per truck per hour. This has been changed and modified to make it more of a penalty. There could be 18 or more firefighters paid to respond to such a call.
        “The weather conditions are always a factor,” Kalan said. If it is too windy to safely do a burn on a certain day, the permit is good for a week so people don’t have to get another one.
        Open burns are only allowed in rural areas and in other areas where there’s enough clearance to have such a burn safely. Burns in the more densely populated villages are not permitted, as smoke will certainly migrate to neighbouring properties. Open burns are only supposed to be done between dawn and dusk.
        “Open burns should be a size that is controllable and supervised so the fire does not spread,” Kalan pointed out. “If it does spread and become uncontrollable, a prompt call to 911 would be necessary.”
        Fires for outdoor cooking are permitted in all areas. They should be in a small fire pit (two feet by two feet) that is recessed in the ground and there is to be a grill attached. Kalan reminds residents to make sure there is an adequate clearance of a minimum of three metres away from fences, buildings, etc. Large bonfires for social gatherings are not permitted and open burn permits are not to be used for this activity, according to the fire chief. If residents have questions about specifics they can call Kalan at 519-268-7334, extension 712, or email:
        For more detailed information on the bylaw, visit the municipality’s website.

Inside this Week
Bylaw ensures cemeteries' maintenance
Sharing experiences with MS
Town-wide garage sale next Saturday
Jenner's free hockey camp coming up