1 – Vehicle fire
1 – Garbage bin fire
7 – Motor vehicle incidents
1 – Public assist
2 – Illegal burn
2 – Investigations / False alarms
1 – Alarm activation
As autumn turns to winter homeowners and farmers are doing last minute clean-up around the yard and farm. For decades the time-honoured way of disposing of any combustible materials was by burning them. Burning may still be the disposal method of last resort, but before lighting that match everyone should consider
• Can I compost it?
• Can it be chipped and used for mulch or composted?
• Am I even allowed to light a fire today?
The Okanagan and Similkameen valleys are famous for their pristine environments, but are also vulnerable to smoke pollution. The shape of the valleys coupled with certain atmospheric conditions can result in inversion layers being formed. An inversion layer is a layer of cold heavy air, which traps and prevents any mixing of air. This results in trapping smoke at low level, where it can impact on the local environment and the health of people living in the valleys.
These inversion layers occur most frequently between mid-November and mid March. During this period there are very few days where smoke pollutants will be well dispersed.
The potential for smoke dispersal each day is measured by Environment Canada and is published as the Ventilation Index.
If the index is 54 or below it is illegal under the Provincial Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation to conduct open burning. Anyone who is burning when the Ventilation Index is 54 or less can be reported to the Provincial Report all Polluters and Poachers (RAPP) toll-free hotline (1-877-952-7277) and may be subject to significant fines. Your name and number will not be given to the offenders – only the conservation officer so that they may phone you if they need more details.
You can find out what the Ventilation Index is each day by calling the toll-free number 1-888-281-2992 and then selecting option three for the Thompson Okanagan region. The Ventilation Index is also available online at www.weatheroffice.pyr.ec.gc.ca/wxhealth/smoke.
Even if it is a good ventilation day (55 or greater), the recommended start time for burning is noon, when smoke dispersal away from the valley is at its best.
During the burning season, the key points to remember are:
• Consider alternatives to burning first;
• Always check the ventilation index before any open burning;
• Burning in the afternoon is generally less polluting than in the morning (but must still not be carried out when the Ventilation Index is low);
• Allow any combustible materials to dry before burning;
• Never burn prohibited materials such as plastics, tires and demolition waste;
• Use the RAPP line to report any open burning when the ventilation Index is low or prohibited materials are being burned.
– Submitted by Jordy Bosscha