Table of contents
If you are planning an outdoor activity when the weather is hot or dry, it is important to be aware that a burn ban could be in effect in your area.
Under fire safety burn bans, you cannot legally have an open flame. But that does not mean all sources of heat are banned for outdoor use.
In fact, as an alternative to burning firewood, you can use a CSA-rated propane fire pit.
In this article, we will answer some burn ban FAQs. By the time you have read through this post, you will have a better understanding of burn ban restrictions and how you can warm your campsite in a way that is safe and legal when one is in effect. Let’s get started.
Burn Ban FAQs
Q: What is a burn ban?
A: A fire ban is a legal restriction on outdoor burning. Jurisdictions each set burn bans individually.
In most cases, burn bans are not permanent. During dry weather conditions that pose fire danger, officials put them into effect to protect public safety and the environment.
Fire safety burn bans help to prevent forest fires from breaking out during drought conditions, while air quality burn bans help to keep the concentrations of harmful particulates under control.
Q: Who can legally put a burn ban into effect?
A: Only public officials can legally issue burn bans. Fire departments, clean air authorities, departments of natural resources, and tribal authorities are examples. Private individuals cannot ban burning on public land.
Q: Why are burn bans needed?
A: Burning restrictions are incredibly important for multiple reasons.
By reducing the risk of wildfires, burn bans protect our woodlands. When fires rage out of control, they can destroy many acres of forest, killing trees, shrubs, and animals. They may also spread to our communities, burning down homes, destroying personal property, and endangering the lives or citizens.
Our forests play a key role in protecting our planet from global warming as well. Burn bans help to maintain a healthy planetary ecology that supports human life.
Last but not least, wood smoke contains carcinogenic compounds. So, if air quality is sufficiently compromised by forest fires, we are breathing in high concentrations of toxins.
Burn bans help keep our air clean, protecting short- and long-term health.
Q: When do burn bans go into effect?
A: While a burn ban can come into effect during any season, it is most likely during wildfire season, which varies by location.
In British Columbia, the wildfire season spans from around April 1st through about October 1st.
But in different locations, wildfires may be more frequent during different months.
Plus, it does not have to be wildfire season for a burn ban to go into effect. Also, be aware that in certain parks, fire bans may be year-round.
Q: Are all burn bans the same?
A: No, not all burn bans are the same. In fact:
- Burn ban restrictions may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
- A single jurisdiction may set different levels of burn ban restrictions.
- Burn bans may be partial or full (under a partial burn ban, open fires are permitted during certain hours; during a full burn ban, they are prohibited around the clock).
This is why it is critical when you check the current burn ban status that you also look up the specific regulations that are in effect. Never assume that you know exactly what is allowed and prohibited based on a previous burn ban.
Q: What happens if I violate a burn ban?
A: Illegal use of recreational fires when a burn ban is in effect will be met with fines if you are discovered.
As an example, if you violate a burn ban in British Columbia, you will be fined up to $1,150.
That is assuming that the illegal fire you set remains within the confines of your campfire.
If it actually causes a wildfire, the minimum fine is $100,000, and the maximum fine is $1,000,000. You will also receive a one-year prison sentence.
The punishments for violating burn bans may differ in other locations, so familiarize yourself with the possible penalties for your jurisdiction.
Q: Are all campfires banned?
A: Under a fire ban, yes, all campfires are banned. But there may be certain campfire alternatives that are legal, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific rules in effect.
Q: Are backyard fire pits banned?
A: Certain propane fire pits are typically legal during fire bans.
The government of British Columbia says:
“Often, campfire prohibitions still allow the use of CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or of portable campfire apparatus that use briquettes, liquid fuel or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm tall. However, in extreme fire conditions these may also be prohibited.”
The category of “portable campfire apparatus” certainly includes propane fire pits.
Q: How do I know if a backyard fire pit is safe and legal to use during a burn ban?
A: Is a fire pit considered open burning? Not if it fits within certain specifications under some bans.
You know that a backyard fire pit is safe and legal to use during a burn ban if it fits within the parameters established by the authorities in your jurisdiction.
So, if you want to use a propane fire pit in British Columbia during a burn ban, for instance, it needs to meet these requirements:
- CSA-rated or ULC-rated
- The flame height must be under 15 cm
CSA Group is a standards organization that puts fire pits to the test. Previously, the organization was known as the “Canadian Standards Association.”
If CSA Group determines that an appliance meets Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) and National Electrical Code (NEC) standards, it will approve that appliance.
When you are shopping for a fire pit, you can check its packaging to see if it displays the CSA Canada USA markings.
While you are at it, you should also check what the flame height is, and whether you can adjust it.
So long as you can adjust the flame to under 15 cm and the fire pit is CSA-approved, you should be good to go.
Find out more about how to choose a fire ban safe fire pit.
Q: What is a fire ban safe fire pit to consider?
A: For a high-quality, CSA-approved fire pit to use during an outdoor fire ban, consider the Outland Living line of propane fire pits.
All models above are powered by propane, feature an adjustable flame height, and are CSA-approved.
With their rugged steel frames featuring protective powder coatings, they offer excellent durability and longevity.
Each unit also comes with a pre-attached hose and regulator, a 4.4 pound natural lava rock set, and a propane tank stabilizer ring.
If you want to enhance your purchase, you can also buy optional accessories such as a standard carry bag, a cover and carry kit, and a natural gas conversion kit.
Q: Are there other campfire alternatives that are safe and legal during fire bans?
A: Yes, there are a few additional ideas you can consider. These include propane torches (acceptable under some bans, but not others), propane stoves (more on that shortly), artificial fires, LED flame lights, or LED lights and tissue paper.
Read about these campfire alternatives in-depth.
Q: Is smoking banned during a burn ban?
A: Whether or not you are permitted to smoke during a burn ban depends on the specific regulations in effect in your jurisdiction. In some cases, cigarettes, pipes and similar products may be banned entirely. In others, you might simply be urged to make sure that you always carefully put out your cigarette and dispose of it safely in a trash bin.
Q: Are candle flames banned during a burn ban?
A: Candles are usually prohibited under burn bans as open flames.
Q: Can gas grills be used during a burn ban?
A: Gas grills and stoves are often acceptable during burn bans. Referring back to the government of British Columbia, “Campfire prohibitions still allow the use of CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.”
That means that a product like the Outland Living propane-fuelled Summerland Stove would be allowed.
This CSA-approved three-burner stove is lightweight and portable, and includes two prep surfaces, a four-hook utensil holder, a pre-attached hose, a regulator, a pull handle, folding legs, and wheels.
Q: How do I find out if there is a burn ban?
A: If you are wondering how to find out if there is a burn ban in effect, call the non-emergency phone number for your local fire department or wildlife authority. Listen to any recorded messages, or ask the person who picks up, “Is there a burn ban in my area?”
Another way to view current burning restrictions is to check the authority’s website.
On the website, you will be able to view the details on any local burn ban that is in effect. Read through the regulations carefully to make sure you are following them to the letter. You should also be able to view general information on how to get a burning permit.
Always Check If a Burn Ban is in Effect, and Use a Legal Fire Ban Safe Fire Pit
Now you have finished reading these burn ban FAQs, you have answers to some of your pressing questions about outdoor burning restrictions. While burn bans may require you to make adjustments to some of your outdoor plans, they are in place for your safety and that of others.
If you always check the details of burn bans in effect, follow regulations carefully, and only use CSA-approved propane gas fire pits, you will be able to enjoy a safe, legal campfire alternative in your backyard, your patio, or at your campsite.