Imagine you or your family had an emergency and firefighters could not get to you as quickly as possible because they were busy answering unnecessary calls having to do with outdoor fires.

Fire Chief Jason Whiteley says the department’s resources are constantly being tied up for calls that are in violation of the total fire bans put in place by both the City of North Bay and, on a wider scale, but also including North Bay and area, the MNRF.

Whiteley says it is “disappointing,” that a segment of the population is not observing the fire ban that has been put in place for the safety of people and property. He says in the wake of a rainstorm Monday, calls began to come in for outdoor burning and continued even as the hot and dry conditions took hold again as the week progressed.

Whiteley says there is an educational component to many outdoor burning calls but during a total open air burning ban, some are leaving the department no choice but to lay fines. Whiteley says generally the offender is billed one hour of the fire service’s time and resources, a penalty that exceeds $500.

The total ban remains in place whether you hold a fire permit or not, says Whiteley. Contained charcoal or propane barbecues do not contravene the ban as long as they are used safely. Also, propane-fuelled backyard burning devices are acceptable.