Fire ban not likely for long weekend

Bryce Forbes

Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Gerry Armstrong is hoping there will be no fire bans over the Victoria Day long weekend.
Despite the hot temperatures and little precipitation of late, he does not anticipate a fire ban being implemented.
He said the fire department takes direction for the Ministry of Natural Resources. If they get to a situation where they believe it’s getting extremely dry, then they recommend the fire department implement a ban.
“For us here in Fort Frances, we don’t have a whole lot of wildland around here that we have major concerns about,” Chief Armstrong remarked.
“Generally speaking, if people want to have small cooking or warmth fires in their backyards in controlled burners, that is legal,” he explained.
“However, if you’re getting out more into some of the rural areas and so on, the fire bans are a bit more serious.
“With any luck, we will get through the weekend without having to impose any bans.”
Although he wants everyone to have a fun weekend, Chief Armstrong also stressed safety.
“[The injuries] are generally related more to activities,” he noted. “People moving around a lot more, they are more involved in outdoor sports like boating and so on.
“People are more prone to injury that way as opposed to the opportunity that fires might actually start,” he reasoned.
Chief Armstrong also reminds people that fire and alcohol do not mix, noting there was a call just last weekend in which alcohol was believed to be a factor, with the victim waking up to a room full of smoke.
“Alcohol in general with the use of candles, cooking, smoking materials,” he said. “Alcohol and people who tend to doze off or misplace smoking materials if they aren’t extinguished.
“From the safety side, out on the highways would be a similar message out with EMS personnel, as well as police.
“With boating, it all becomes part of the same message,” Chief Armstrong added. “If there are boat incidents, if it comes to rescue, we get involved with it.
“If alcohol is a part of those kinds of scenarios, it’s bad news.”
Last year, the OPP reported their safest Victoria Day weekend in five years with only two fatalities on the province’s highways, trails, and waterways—down from five in 2008.
Chief Armstrong concluded by saying just be smart about what you are doing over the long weekend.
“In general, we ask people to just be cautious, be careful, and really be cognitive about what you’re doing when it comes to outdoor activities and all those related things you are going to want to do over the long weekend,” he remarked.