|Back to Home||Feature Article - August 9, 2012|
“Nuisance” calls frustrate tired CF firefightersby Jeff Green
A total burn ban is in effect throughout Lanark and Frontenac Counties, Addington Highlands and Stone Mills Township, as dry conditions reach unprecedented levels.
Central Frontenac Fire Chief Bill Young says his crews have been run off their feet fighting a series of wildfires, some of which have penetrated 2 ½ feet below ground level. The fires feed on the dried roots of trees and pop up to the surface when the opportunity arises.
“On top of that, every night the crews are called out to deal with nuisance fires - camp and garbage fires that people are still starting up even though they are not permitted. We send four firefighters to each of these calls, as well as trucks. It costs the township money, it pulls in already tired firefighters, and it poses a real danger to the public.”
Starting this week, Bill Young said that fines will be imposed on those people who insist on flouting the law, and endangering their own and their neighbors' lives and properties.
Measurements show that dryness has penetrated deeper underground than has ever been seen in the region, which explains why it has been so difficult to put out wildfires.
Young said that a fire on Crown land near Over the Hill Road (near Ardoch Road) took the MNR six days to put out earlier this week, and that the Central Frontenac Fire Department had to call in water bombers to fight a fire on Bolton Lake and another near Parham earlier in July.
Crews are also having difficulty fighting some fires because all the ponds and other wetlands that they would normally use as water sources are now dry or nearly dry, meaning they have to pump all their water out of lakes, which can be a thousand metres or more from the location of a fire.
The fact that fires are permitted in provincial campgrounds, which are not under the jurisdiction of the municipality, can lead to some confusion, but the message from the fire chiefs throughout the region is simple – no fires at all.
“Even if there is rain we will not be dropping the fire ban soon,” said Young, “a little rain doesn’t change anything when it is still so dry beneath the surface and in the bush.”
Fire fighters in Central Frontenac have been so over-worked that they have had to appeal for support from North Frontenac fire crews on occasion over the last few weeks.
“Our crews are really stretched. This has been a difficult summer for us,” said Young, adding that the public might not understand the kind of effort it takes for firefighters to put out wildfires, all the while wearing heavy gear on hot summer days and sticky nights.