Weekly Media Release - Fire Department

February 24, 2015

Oak Bay Fire Department

1703 Monterey Avenue, Oak Bay B.C. V8R 5V6 (250) 592-9121
Email:  obfire@oakbay.ca       Fax:  (250) 598-2749

News Release
Date: February 23, 2015                                                            OBFD file # 2015-08

For Immediate Release:
Weekly Media Release for Monday, February 16, 2015 to Sunday, February 22, 2015.
Over the past week, Oak Bay Fire Department members responded to 29 calls for assistance.
These calls for assistance include:

17 – Medical First Responder Requests
5 – Commercial / Residential Alarm Activations
4 – Public Assistance
2 – Burning Complaint
1 – Motor Vehicle Fire

Bylaw 3803 – Prohibits Backyard Burning & Beach Fires – Why?

Recent studies have found that fine particulates can pose a greater danger to our health than the better-known kinds of air pollution, such as smog (ground-level ozone) and sulphur dioxide. Fine particulates are linked with numerous health problems — from a

runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma and even death.

In fact, new research in the United States suggests that fine particulates are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in that country each year. A 1993 study for the Provincial Health Officer found that exposure to fine particulates in wood smoke may be causing substantial illness and some deaths within the province. Fine particulates are also a visual blight, capable of reducing visibility so much that beautiful views are blotted out, and road and air travel is made difficult.

Residential backyard burning is a significant source of airborne fine particulate matter.  In B.C., residential backyard burning falls under the municipal jurisdiction. Most municipal bylaws dealing with backyard burning are for fire protection. In many cases, they do not adequately address air quality issues. Recently, however, in recognition of smoke problems, several municipalities and regional districts in the province have passed bylaws that completely prohibit backyard burning.

The first option from an air quality, health, safety and economic point of view, is to completely ban residential backyard burning. This is particularly suitable for municipalities with high population density where the risk to air quality from burning yard residue can be significant and the cost of alternative debris management can be clearly justified. Banning backyard burning will not only improve air quality but will also encourage people to deal with debris in a more responsible and productive manner.