Fisheries and Land Resources
April 15, 2019

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources:

Residents Advised to Exercise Extreme Caution during Spring Burning

Mr. Speaker, more than 80 per cent of the forest fires that occur in Newfoundland and Labrador are preventable. In 2018, 106 out of 132 fires were caused by human activity, and 12 of those fires occurred before fire season even started, in early April – a time when many people have the misconception that spring conditions are safe for burning.

Although less area was burned in 2018, the number of fire starts was up compared to 2017. Fast action by our excellent fire suppression crews ensured protection of more forest land last year, and reflects the ever-constant need for vigilance in forest fire prevention. I am also pleased to inform the House of Assembly that we will be hiring 10 student firefighters this summer, who will gain valuable experience and bring their youthful energies to a demanding profession.

Mr. Speaker, while spring is traditionally the time of year to get outside and clear up our properties after a long winter, I cannot overemphasize the importance of exercising extreme caution when using fire during spring cleanup activities near forested land. Grass burning is a long-standing spring tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador, but the practice is neither safe nor effective. And while dead vegetation in fields and other open areas may appear wet in spring, it can ignite quickly under warm or windy conditions – and this is the cause of most fires that occur early in the season.

The 2019 forest fire season will be in effect from May 1 to September 30 on the island portion of the province, and from May 15 to September 30 in Labrador. Under the Forestry Act, a permit to burn is required to burn brush on forested land or within 300 metres of forest land during fire season, and failure to comply is an offence under the act.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all residents, please, take every measure possible to not become a forest fire statistic. Help protect our vital forest lands, as well as the dedicated fire suppression crews that work tirelessly to fight fires when the call comes, by taking extra care to prevent forest fires.

Thank you.

2019 04 15                              1:50 p.m.