Archive for burning

Update on Open Burning Ban Effective June 19th 2020

On June 19th 2020 the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department will be lifting the current Open Burning Ban for the island.

This means that camp fires not exceeding 0.5 meter X 0.5 meter X 0.5 meters in size will be allowed, as long as they conform to the current burning restrictions outlined here
Any fire larger then 0.5 meter x 0.5 meter x 0.5 meter will require a permit from the GVFD office. Please contact the GVFD office at (250) 247-9677 for more details about acquiring a permit.
Standard (50L) Burn Barrel incinerators are now permitted as long as they also follow the standard open burning regulations outlined in the link above.
Please keep the community in mind and those who may be suffering from respiratory problems when burning. Excessive smoke will not be tolerated and you may be asked to put your camp fire out if there are complaints from your neighbours.
The current fire rating is LOW but watch our website and social media for updates as this could change as we move into wildfire season.
Many thanks and be safe!
Your Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department

Open Burning Ban in Effect

Important  announcement regarding open burning on the island.  Under the directive of the RDN, the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department has now implemented a complete ban on all open burning. This is due to the current COVID-19 health emergency and air quality concerns for those that may be affected. This ban is effective immediately and you will see all the “No Fire” signs up around the island by the end of the day.

Exemptions from the open burning ban are cooking fires and wood stoves to heat your homes. We thank you for your continued support and compliance during these difficult times. We will get through this, together.

Chimney fire spreads to roof moss

Monday morning firefighters were paged to a report of a structure fire. On arrival, members found the homeowner had extinguished a fire in the moss on the roof. The fire appears to have started when sparks from the chimney landed in the very dry moss on the roof.

it is extremely important to ensure both your chimney is clean and the roof is free of any combustible debris if you need to use your wood stove for heat during the summer months.

Do not burn paper, garbage, or anything else that can cause sparks to emit from the chimney and land in any combustible materials



A Seasonal Burning Ban is Now In Effect

Due to continuing dry weather, a burning ban is now in effect.

Propane fireplaces with a flame height of 6” max are permitted, as are propane and briquette BBQs and hibatchis.

Cautious use of woodstoves for home heating is also allowed, but please ensure your chimney is clean, as a chimney fire could result in a fire speading to the underbrush, etc.

Bush Fire

This morning the GVFD responded to a bush fire call.  We discovered a pile of stacked firewood burning, and a smoldering fire working it’s way up the hill.  It appears that someone had a campfire about 2 days ago, and did not completely extinguish it.  The stacked firewood was piled very close to the camp fire, and the area was not cleared of combustible material.  This fire could have been avoided if the burning regulations had been followed.
As a reminder:
– Only small 1/2m fires are permitted at this time.
– Theses fires must have a 1m perimeter of non-combustible material, and must be a safe distance from any combustible growth or objects.
– Fires must be continuously attended.A charged hose or 20L pail of water and a shovel must be kept available.
– Any costs incurred for extinguishing a fire may be charged to the property owner if the fire resulted from carelessness or a disregard of the burning regulations.
The GVFD burning regulations are available on our website (, in the Gabriola Directory, and from the firehall.

Fire Season is here

Fire season is the time of year from April 1 to October 15. During these months certain rules are in place that are somewhat relaxed during the rest of the year.

Please familiarize yourself with the various hazard levels and restrictions posted elsewhere on this site.

Also, please remember that smoke is an issue that creates problems all year round please ensure any burning is conducted as smoke free as possible.

More on burning issues

The following was a reply to a previous post that I overlooked, but I think warrants some discussion:

Submitted on 2015/01/30 at 4:58 pm

The problem is not just that people burn garbage but stinking, toxic smoke coming from improperly burned woodstoves is really everywhere on the island. People burn wet or not well seasoned fire wood and do not care. Even if you tell people that a lot of smoke is coming out of their chimney they don’t do anything about it.

Another toxic issue is open burning. People burn everthing from wet leaves to wet wood and who knows what else and nothing is being done about it. Open burning has been tolerated too long . You cannot do this in this day and age and say that you care about the environment.The only solution here is a total open burning ban, like in all civilized communities. I really think that we have to take drastic measures in order to get the message across.I think we need a combined effort between the fire department and IslandTrust to take action. I did not mention the RDN, because despite my emails to Howard Houle about this subject, he chose to ignore them.

The last time the subject of open burning was brought up was by the fire dept during a review of our bylaws a few years back. At that time their were some people who felt as you do, but the overwhelming majority indicated open burning – with controls- was acceptable. While this may qualify our island as somewhat uncivilized, it seems we are rather small potatoes, given the direction our country and the western world in general has taken regarding pollution of all kinds these last number of years.

Having said that, their are burning regulations in place on Gabriola that regulate open burning, if not home wood heaters, and they need to be followed in order to reduce the smoke impact. I agree that wet and unseasoned wood contributes the most to the problem, and the majority of that comes from home heating, not open burning.

Our duty officers will respond and to any open burning complaints and do our best to ensure proper procedures are being followed, but often we find a message on the answering machine after the fact, and the evidence has vanished into thin air. Sorry, bad pun.

Unless an open burn is an actual fire threat, the non emergency contact number should be used to inform the department, not  911. In that event everyone’s pagers will go off and the entire department and much equipment will be dispatched.

With regards to our RND rep, please don’t be too quick to dismiss him as ignoring you. Especially as I, in my blogging ineptitude, only discovered your January reply today, on March 5th.

Burning garbage

Some people still feel it’s ok to to stuff their plastic and paper garbage into their woodstove as a way of dealing with it. We often receive complaints about this, but if it’s after the fact, not much can be done about it.

When someone is all cozy inside their home, they are probably not even aware of the stink and discomfort they are bestowing upon their neighbours. But the neighbours often are, and often know exactly whose chimney it’s coming from.

Under provincial regulations it’s illegal – as well as very inconsiderate – to pollute the air this way. I always encourage people to try and point out the problem to the offending neighbour in a friendly manner while it is happening- as it’s harder to deny any involvement when the smoke is pouring out of the chimney.

In my opinion, if Gabriola is to remain a place where we can continue to enjoy the benefits of wood burning, we need to make sure we do it correctly and not empower the winds of change with the end result being a permanent fire ban.