Rural residents asked to alert fire department before controlled burns

By Nigel Maxwell
April 29, 2018 - 8:00am

The Melfort Fire Department wants to decrease the number of false alarm calls in rural areas, which often turn out to be controlled burns.

Fire Chief Paul See said the department receives at least a half-dozen calls each year related to controlled burns. He said many people assume smoke always indicates an emergency.

"Everyone has a cell phone nowadays. As soon as they see smoke they are calling 911. So we'll go racing out there to find out it's someone burning and it's kind of tying up resources," See said.

The fire department has a service area covering a 25-mile radius around Melfort, and See said he would like people in the rural areas who are planning a controlled burn to report it to fire dispatch before they start burning. The fire department can provide advice on weather conditions, he said, and calling in advance will avoid leading the fire crews on a wild goose chase.

"That way if the public does phone 911, fire dispatch has a log so they can say 'nope, that's a controlled burn,'" See said.

If the fire department does respond to a false alarm, See said the person who rents or owns the land can be charged. The cost per call has been set at $1,500 per hour plus wages, See said, so it's in everyone's best interest to make the call before lighting the match.


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