Do Your Part To Prevent Wildfires

Warmer temperatures have arrived throughout the province. Human-caused wildfires make up 90% of spring wildfires, but are 100% preventable.

Wildfires can smoulder under the snow during the winter and emerge as a wildfire in the spring when conditions are warm and dry. Do your part to prevent wildfires by checking your winter burn piles to ensure they are extinguished.

Fire permits help Alberta Wildfire determine what burning is happening on the land. Knowing in advance where permitted burning is happening ensures that our firefighters are able to fight new wildfires instead of investigating a permitted burn.

All burning activities in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area, excluding campfires, requires a fire permit.

To get a fire permit, you can phone 310-0000 or visit your local Agriculture and Forestry office.

How To Keep Your Campfire from Becoming a Wildfire

Did you know that recreation is one of the main causes of wildfires each year in Alberta? About 70 per cent of wildfires over the last five years have been linked to human activity.

Wildfire protection has been strengthened with new regulations. If you leave a site within the Forest Protection Area without fully extinguishing your campfire, you can now face a fine of $287 (you can learn more about the fines by clicking here).

Here is what you can do to help prevent wildfires:

Getting Started

Before heading out to enjoy a campfire, check to ensure that campfires are permitted in your area.

Selecting the Best Site Possible

  • If you are at a campground, use the designated stoves, rings and fire pits. They are designed to keep fires from spreading and are the best choice for a safe campfire.
  • Avoid using sites that have dry grass, heavy bushes, leaves, logs, peat areas or overhanging branches.
  • Build your campfire on level ground that is sheltered from the wind. A breeze can carry sparks from your fire to flammable material nearby.

Preparing Your Site: Outside a Designated Campground

  • Be sure to have the following tools with you: a shovel, an axe or hatchet and a large container of water with enough water to fully extinguish your campfire.
  • Prepare your site; make a circular fire pit by digging or scraping down to the soil in an area that is one metre wide. Rocks may be used to mark the edge of the fire pit. Clear away any flammable materials within a metre of the outside edge of your fire pit.

 Extinguishing Your Campfire

  • When you’re finished with the campfire, make sure you properly extinguish it. First, let the fire burn down well before you plan to put it out. Next, spread the embers inside the fire pit. Be careful to keep the embers within the fire pit. Add water or loose dirt to the fire pit and stir it around.
  • Dig around the fire pit and expose any material that is still burning before adding more water or loose dirt. Continue until you no longer see smoke or steam rising from the pit.
  • Don’t just bury your fire and leave it – embers will continue to smolder underground and can re-emerge as a wildfire.
  • Your campfire is fully extinguished when its ashes are cool to the touch.

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Remember to always check before heading out camping to see if there are any fire advisories, restrictions or bans in your area.

To report a wildfire, please dial 310-FIRE.

Hot Spots: Safe Operation of an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV)

What is an OHV?

The Traffic Safety Act defines an OHV as any motorized vehicle built for cross-country travel, including:

  • dirt bikes, motorcycles, mini-bikes and related two-wheel vehicles
  • all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
  • utility terrain vehicles
  • miniature motor vehicles
  • amphibious vehicles

What is a Hot Spot?

Hot spots occur when vegetation and debris build up on an OHV in one of four main places: the exhaust and muffler, under the seat, the wheel wells and in the engine and manifold.

Exhaust systems heat up to temperatures in excess of 204°C, which is hot enough to fry an egg or start a wildfire. At these temperatures, grass, muskeg, moss or other debris that has built up on your machine can heat up, smoulder and ignite. That smouldering debris can then drop to the ground as you’re riding, potentially starting a wildfire.

If you’re planning to hit the trails, here are some tips to reduce the risk of your OHV sparking a wildfire.


What you can do:

  • Before you ride, clean out your hot spots and remove debris from your machine
  • After riding through muskeg or tall grass, stop and remove any debris that has built up underneath
  • Carry a small shovel, collapsible pail or fire extinguisher in case a small wildfire starts
  • Wash your machine and keep it clean (Do not wash it in streams, rivers or creeks)
  • Make sure your muffler and spark arrestor are working properly
  • Stop frequently. Take the time to knock debris from your machine’s hot spots. If the debris is smouldering, soak it with water and make sure it’s cold to the touch.

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Remember that if you are found responsible for starting a wildfire, you may be charged under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act and be held responsible for the cost of extinguishing the wildfire.

If you see smoke or a wildfire, call 310-FIRE immediately to report it.

Before you hit the road on your off-highway vehicle, make sure to check out for information on fire advisories, restrictions and bans across the province.

Safe riding!

Source: Alberta Wildfire