Winnipeg first responder shares safety tips as campfire season approaches

As campfire season approaches, a professional is reminding Winnipeggers to play it safe.

Even though there’s been some rain in the city, Lisa Gilmour, the assistant chief of community risk reduction with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, said it hasn’t been enough to quench dry conditions.

“If you’re walking around, that’s not a surprise that you’re seeing drier conditions. So that is when we are more concerned about these types of wildland fires, where we see a lot of drier materials that can burn faster,” she said.

Paired with higher winds, she said the risk of these blazes increases.

So far this year, there have been several wildland fires within the perimeter, including two larger ones in the Transcona area on April 25 and Wednesday.

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“We typically have about 200 grass fires a year,” she said. “Most of the fires we see… are probably started by human-caused activities. They’re not natural fires.”

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As such, there are some tips and tricks for keeping safe this summer, while still enjoying sitting around the embers with friends and family.

It starts with getting a fire permit, Gilmour said, then making sure you’re burning the proper materials in an outdoor, enclosed fire receptacle. “That includes a fire pit, fireplace, (and) outdoor barbeque,” she said.

It’s also important to ensure there’s something nearby to quickly extinguish the fire if needed, Gilmour said, and to make sure someone’s keeping tabs on the flames.

“If you are outside, especially in any dry condition, don’t dispose of cigarette butts in any sort of vegetation. Be careful of how you’re putting those out — they can cause a lot of fires,” she said.

“If it’s windy outside, maybe reconsider your plans. Even with a proper fire permit, fires can’t be started when wind gusts exceed 25 km/h,” she said. “So really just keep an eye on the weather.”

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