What is Compliance?
Compliance means adherence to the laws. Legislation (law) is the foundation for all compliance activities.
Goal of Ontario's Fire Compliance Program
The goal of the fire compliance program is to reduce the number of fires caused by people through its program of education, monitoring and enforcement.
Fire management contributes to the Ministry’s mission of ecological sustainability by reducing negative impacts of fire on forest ecosystems and forest stakeholders and by facilitating the use of fire to maintain or restore ecosystems that depend on fire. Ensuring forest stakeholders, industrial operators, and residents comply with forest management and forest fire laws is a principal way to protect ecosystems and the economic use of forest resources. There are a number of methods employed to ensure compliance with fire prevention regulations.
Education means providing all forest users with an awareness and knowledge of fire laws and fire-safety practices, which will help them make the right decisions when it comes to the use of fire and the prevention of wildfires. MNR works with other agencies to promote fire prevention education and safety practices. This includes the engineering of self-regulating tools or physical fire safeguards which forest users can use to reduce the chance of fires starting or escaping. An example of such tools are guidelines for gradual reducing of forest operations activities under increasing fire hazard, requiring firebreaks around all forest homes or spark arresters on incinerators.
Enforcement begins after the education and the more pro-active parts of the compliance program have failed. Enforcement does however have the potential for the greatest ability to change public behaviour and bring focus to fire occurrence problems.
Monitoring is important to identify common fire causes and compliance problems that should be specifically targeted by the compliance program. Regional compliance plans will identify areas that district staff should monitor to determine which groups may need increased education, engineering or enforcement programs.
The compliance program is based primarily on the Forest Fires Prevention Act. This legislation applies to the fire regions of Ontario (see map). You can check with your local MNR office to find out if you are located within the fire region.
The Act establishes the “fire season” as April 1 to October 31 every year. During these months there are additional rules for open burning, use of permits, reporting of fires, clearing debris, smoking in the forest and other fire related activities.
Regulation 207/96 describes conditions under which outdoor fires are allowed in the fire regions of Ontario. If you live in a municipality, check with the local municipal office or fire department. You may be required to get municipal permission to burn or you may be required to take your woody debris to an approved disposal site. If your municipality does not have special burning rules and you live in northwestern, northeastern, or central Ontario, then burning practices outlined in the regulation are not only important, they are the law!
If a forest fire results because you have used fire improperly, you could be held responsible for the costs of putting out the fire and for any property damage that occurs. The following are some safe burning practices that you can follow to help reduce the risk of a fire you started getting away and becoming a wildfire.
Ontario’s forests are an important resource. They are worth about $12 billion yearly to the forest products and recreation industries, and provide thousands of jobs. By following simple fire safety rules, you can help keep our forests green for the enjoyment and use of everyone.