Ontario's Rules and Laws Controlling the Use of Fire

The Forest Fires Prevention Act

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The Forest Fires Prevention Act and its regulations has requirements aimed at reducing forest fires and ensuring public safety.


The main legislation controlling the use of fire is the Forest Fires Prevention Act. The Act applies to the two fire regions divided into 36 zones set out in regulation. The fire season is from April 1st to October 31st, may be extended by regulation.


This Act and its regulations has requirements aimed at reducing forest fires and ensuring public safety. The Act and its regulations spell out safety standards and measures governing the use of fire in the forests and establishes penalties to deter violators and careless users. It also provides powers to fire officers and allows the Ministry to create Restricted Fire Zones when the fire hazard is extreme, and Emergency Areas when the danger to human life is high. By establishing these temporary zones and areas, MNR can restrict access and take whatever measures necessary to protect human life and manage the fire.


By regulation the Act:


  • establishes where and when fire permits are required
  • can put in place a Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ) in which fires for cooking or warmth will be restricted
  • can put in place an Emergency Area Order (EAO) restricting travel in zones
  • the Minister may declare emergency areas and may make orders for fire suppression and the safety and evacuations of persons


Other legislation and programs that contain fire prevention measures:


Another important piece of legislation that assists MNR in preventing fires is the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. This Act provides the framework for industrial forest operations. Forest Management Plans and Annual Work Schedules must contain fire prevention and preparedness measures as well as planning for prescribed burns.


Fire compliance monitoring is incorporated into the forest operations inspection program, which is largely a self-monitoring process by the forest industry.


The fire program also depends on aspects of other legislation to help prevent forest fires, such as the Railway Safety Act, the Municipal Act and the Public Lands Act to name a few.


Rules are outlined in this section for: campfires; portable gas, propane or naphtha stoves; portable wood burning stoves, charcoal installations (BBQs, Hibachis, etc.); outdoor wood burning stoves and wood burning furnaces.


If you live within an organized municipality, check with the municipal office or fire department before you burn. If local rules are more stringent, you must follow those. Otherwise, you can burn without a fire permit if you follow the established safe burning rules, except in a Restricted Fire Zone where burning is strictly prohibited.