Forestry looking for a few good people

In the meantime, mind those winter burns!

Leader staff

Last week the folks at the Slave Lake Forest Area put out a two-pronged news release. Part of it is the standard warnings and advice about winter burning.

The less usual part of it is that it leads off with a plea for seasonal employees. Fire season starts March 1 and from then until things really get cracking later in the spring, a lot of hiring needs to be done, as follows:
Airtanker base loader, tanker base supervisor, camp supervisor, crew supervisor, information coordinator, logistics assistant, lookout observer, patrol person, warehouse support, wildfire crews… and more!
“We’re really looking for local folks,” says spokesperson Leah Lovequist. “Some of them are harder positions to fill, because people don’t know about them.”

Jan. 31 is the application deadline.

In the meantime, fire permits are no longer required for burning within the Forest Protection Area. However, safe burning practices are always in season. The risk of a wildfire doesn’t end when wildfire season does – any time there is a fire on the land, there is a risk that it can spread.

If fires aren’t properly put out, they can spread and burn underground, under the snow and ice, all winter. Under the right conditions, these fires can re-emerge in the spring as wildfires. Do your part to prevent spring wildfires by revisiting your winter burns to make sure there are extinguished.

Firefighters do respond to wildfires, even in the winter. If you spot a wildfire report it by calling 310-FIRE(3743).

Take the time to properly prepare your burn site. Know the requirements needed to be successful during your burn and how to properly extinguish your site.

Before you burn
Winter burns should be conducted in areas with sufficient snow cover of more than 15 centimetres and burns must be monitored the entire time.

Ensure smoke warning signs are in place before burning within half a mile (800 m) from a roadway. For more information on smoke management and to acquire signs, contact your local municipality. You can also contact Alberta Transportation.

Read over the Recommended Practices for placement and instruction of a “Smoke Ahead” sign.
While burning:

Have someone monitoring the burn the entire time – if it escapes, immediately report it to 310-FIRE.

Only burn what you can control with the equipment and people you have available, and adjust your burning according to weather conditions.

Build it right. Brush piles or debris windrows should be free of soil, built to a maximum height of three metres, and with a fireguard or cleared land around it to stop the spread of fire.

After you burn
Spread remaining material within the pile and soak with water as required.

Check the area and ensure both heat and smoke are no longer being produced by the pile – it should be cool to the touch.

Check your burn site multiple times in the following weeks to ensure it has not reignited.

Smoke Safety
The lower fire hazard in winter is a safer time to consider doing your burns.

There are still some necessary precautions to take before burning, like monitoring the weather to ensure smoke from your burn won’t negatively impact surrounding areas.

For information on ventilation conditions within the province, visit Environment Canada’s Ventilation Index.

On particularly cold winter days, inversions and other weather factors can cause smoke from a winter burn to stay close to the ground and travel great distances. An inversion happens when cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warmer air above it. Inversions can cause dangerous driving conditions and impact nearby communities.

When burning in winter
Refrain from burning when an inversion is in place or is forecasted.

Consult local municipalities and authorities on how to mitigate impacts when undertaking larger winter burning projects near communities or road ways.

Actively manage burn projects to reduce disposal time and smoke impacts.

Burning debris in stages will allow you to adapt to changing weather conditions and reduce smoke.

Monitor weather conditions: lower temperatures and lighter wind speeds can result in stronger inversions.

The ideal conditions for burning are typically days with average temperatures and wind speeds over five km/h.

Ensure good snow cover in the burn area (more than 15 cm).

Safe burning practices are always in season – don’t let your winter burn come back to life in the spring.

Photo courtesy of Alberta Wildfire

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