With the province’s early start to the 2024 fire season and this winter’s lack of snow cover, County residents must now apply for a free fire permit and follow safe burning practices when using outdoor fires to clean up fallen branches and yard debris.

District Chief Matt Smith says that without the added moisture that snow provides, residents who decide to burn will need to be cautious.

"An extinguished burn pile may have smouldering underground embers, known as a hold-over fire, that could be reignited by spring winds when dry grasses are uncovered,” adds Smith.

The County has specific guidance for operating a burn barrel or fire pit. Both require a fire permit for the entire year, and many residents may not realize that the permit expires each year on December 31. 

“New requests for a burn barrel or fire pit permit involves a mandatory inspection by a fire guardian,” says Smith. “A simplified renewal request can be made each year following, but only if the previously inspected burn barrel or fire pit has not been replaced or moved.” 

Burn barrels and fire pits must be set up on a non-combustible surface measuring a minimum of 10 feet around, be located 100 feet away from trees and structures, be covered by a screen to contain drifting on-fire particles, and must be continuously monitored when lit.

Residents who wish to apply online for a free fire permit can review the requirements and complete the application found at www.countygp.ab.ca/firepermits. County staff will then forward the request to a fire guardian to conduct the inspection. Another option is to call County Regional Fire Service at 780-532-9727 to schedule an inspection to begin the permitting process. 
The website also includes a map outlining the County’s four fire burning areas – White, Yellow, Red, or Green – and their burning and permitting requirements for open burning or using fire pits, burn barrels or incinerators. 

  • For residents who live in White or Yellow areas, an inspection is needed during fire season, March 1 to October 31. In the off-season, November 1- February 29, only verbal notification is required. 
  • Residents in the Red area or hamlets and subdivisions require a written fire permit year-round.
  • The Green area is designated as the Forest Protection Area. Residents should contact Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to obtain a written permit from a Forestry Fire Guardian during fire season.

Residents are reminded that regardless of permit, burning is not permitted once winds exceed 12 kilometres per hour. Burning household garbage is not permitted within hamlets or residential subdivisions. If a Fire Ban is issued, all burn permits will be void until the ban is lifted. Notifications will be made through the County’s website, social media channels and local media. For questions, contact County Regional Fire Service at 780-532-9727.

Information provided by the County of Grande Prairie 

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