Fire Department reminder: permits needed for all backyard campfires

As the weather continues to improve, the St. Marys Fire Department has been pleased to see that people have begun stopping by the fire hall on James Street South to pick up their open fire permits. However, they’ve also been hearing complaints from neighbours and other residents about certain individuals holding backyard campfires or other types of open fires without having permits.

According to a 2012 By-Law, a permit is required for any open fires within the Town of St. Marys.

Open Fire permits cost $25 and last from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 during the calendar year it is issued. An application for a permit must be completed on the forms provided by the St. Marys Fire Department. Residents applying for a permit for the first time will require an inspection of the open fire area to ensure the area meets the by-law regulations, including such items as the fire being limited only to a suitable container. The fire must also not be located under overhanging tree branches, and must be at least five metres from any combustible ground cover. Permits may be refused if these conditions are not met.

Permits only allow permit holders to burn commercially produced charcoal, briquettes or clean, dry, seasoned wood. Noxious materials, yard waste, or leaves are not to be burned.

Before calling it a night, permit holders are advised to extinguish fires and securely cover them with a lid, acting fire chief Brent Dundas said.

Also, as one of the most common complaints the fire department receives is from residents regarding smoke from a neighbour’s open fire coming into their yard or through their windows, Dundas urged residents to refrain from holding open fires on windy days or nights.

Should the fire chief find that the by-law has been contravened, an order to discontinue activity may be issued, requiring the offender to not conduct an open fire for a certain period of time. Anyone contravening the by-law could be convicted and liable to the penalties set out in the Provincial Offences Act.

The By-Law can be read in full online by visiting For more information, call the Fire Chief at 519-284-1752.

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