Grass fires burning up department’s resources

Grass fires burning up department’s resources

10 April 2013

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Canada — More education on burning grass and brush, and the proper time and way to do it is needed to prevent a simple fire from getting away and becoming something bigger.

During the Easter weekend, Shubenacadie Fire and Emergency Services responded to more than 10 grass fires, with several more popping up as they responded to each call. Most of the incidents were located in Indian Brook First Nation. They had mutual aid assistance from Indian Brook Fire, Milford Fire, and Stewiacke Fire.

However, if something more major came in—like a structure fire or motor vehicle collision—their manpower would have been taxed. As it was, Shubenacadie had to respond March 30 after an afternoon filled with grass fires to a car fire in which an Indian Brook RCMP cruiser was ablaze.

Shubenacadie Fire Chief Wayne Greene believes people need to be more wary of conditions when they decide to burn debris or brush in their yard.

“I think a little bit more education will certainly help with regards to informing people when they’re burning in their backyards, burn in a neutral area not close to any wood piles, and burn on a day that’s not windy.

“Also, I think what would help is if people didn’t throw their cigarette butts that still burn out their window. Quite often we get calls from the highway of small fires as a result of people throwing their cigarette butts out the window.”

Greene talked a bit about the calls his fire department responded to.

“I think we did about 12 or 13 calls,” said Greene. “Quite often we’ll get a call that there’s more as we respond. At one point we were busy enough that I had my personal vehicle at the scene, to help knock down some of the smaller fires.

“The next month-and-a-half we’ll probably do in the vicinity of 50-70 grass fire calls.”

He said it does put a strain on resources within his department for protection of their community, but that’s where mutual aid from other nearby East Hants Fire Services comes into play.

“Depending on the size of the call, it would bring the mutual aid system down,” he said. “For Shubie alone, being one of the busier departments in the Corridor for grass fires because we service Indian Brook as mutual aid, it’s one of those things where you could have firefighters out for six hours and when you get back from a call, we do get a good call a lot of our resources are tied up because they’re tired, and they second guess whether they should respond because they’re tired.”

Greene said so many calls puts a strain on those firefighters with early work schedules.

“It’s a tough call to make, when you hear structure or car fire we always think of our community, and we want to get out and help as much as possible,” he said. “It certainly does put a strain on those who work early in the morning who are hesitant to go to call because they will be getting up after a long night of lugging hose all day in the woods.”

He confirmed the car fire call was for an RCMP cruiser on Robinson Road in Indian Brook.

“For the same reason, when we heard police cruiser we pay close attention to that as we work closely with them, we had a good crew of firefighters respond and ready to go,” he said.

Greene said if there was another major call they would have relied on other East Hants Fire Services to assist.

“If we had have gotten a major call we would have drawn our resources from the grass fires, and head to the structure,” he said. “We would have relied on Milford one way, and Stewiacke the other, to help us if we were tired.”

He said the fires they responded to were as a result of people burning in the wrong spot, or very close to homes.

“We had one abandoned small mobile home take some damage to the side of its building,” he said. “People need to be more educated, and burn away from wood piles, away from their homes, and on days that it’s not windy.”

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