Fire Bans and Restrictions
The operation of off-road vehicles is once again permitted on Crown land throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre, and Southeast Fire Centre, effective at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
It’s your responsibility to know what the current bans and restrictions are for the use of fire in your area. Serious fines and penalties can result for not adhering to these rules while in the jurisdiction of the BC Wildfire Service.
A campfire is an open fire that burns piled material no larger than 0.5 m in height and 0.5 m in width and is used by any person for recreational purpose, or by a First Nation for a ceremonial purpose.
Poorly managed and abandoned campfires result in numerous wildfires each year. Follow the links below to find out the best ways to avoid your campfire from turning into a wildfire.
- Campfire regulations (PDF, poster)
- Stoves & Campfires (PDF, pamphlet)
- Small and safe campfire rules (video)
A Category 2 open fire is an open fire, excluding a campfire, that burns piled material no larger than two metres high and three metres wide, or grass over an area less than 0.2 hectares (2000 square metres) in size.
Unsure if you need to register your burn? Want to know what your legal obligations are when open burning? The Government of British Columbia has produced a series of pamphlets which detail safe practices and the regulations around open burning.
- Backyard & Industrial Burning (PDF, pamphlet)
- Industrial & Resource Management Burning (PDF, pamphlet)
*To print a pamphlet, please select "Fit to Printable Area" in your printer settings.
- Ministry of Environment Burning Requirements (PDF, factsheet)
A summary of the open burning regulations in B.C. and different fire categories (PDF, poster) is also available.
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Q: Why is the use of fire banned?
A: The decision when or where to implement a fire ban is made by the regional fire centres depending on local fire hazards or dangers, the type of weather conditions forecasted and the type and level of fire activity being experienced.
Bans can also be implemented in anticipation of an increase in lightning-caused fires or during critical fire situations, when the BC Wildfire Service cannot afford to risk having human-caused fires divert resources from naturally-caused ones.
In these situations, fires present an unacceptable risk and detract from detection and response capabilities by increasing the number of ‘false-alarm’ smoke chases, wildfire phone reports and nuisance fires.
Q: Where do fire bans and restrictions apply?
A: The Wildfire Act and Regulation, and therefore fire bans and restrictions, apply on Crown land and private land not covered by local open burning bylaws put in place by local government (i.e. municipalities, regional districts).
This includes municipal and privately owned campgrounds not covered by municipal bylaws, forestry recreation sites and provincial and federal parks. BC Parks may also designate certain BC Parks campsites as ‘no campfire’ locations.
Q: How do I find out if there is a fire ban or restriction in place?
A: For open fires and campfires on Crown land and private land see Current Bans and Restrictions.
But, as these restrictions do not include areas which are within the boundaries of local government and subject to local bylaws, you should also check with local government authorities before lighting any fires.
Before lighting a campfire it is also important to check the campfire policy for the campground you are staying in. For BC Parks campgrounds, see the Provincial Parks Affected by Fire Restrictions page, plus the notes for the particular campground you’re interested in, on the BC Parks website.
Q: It has been raining for several days in my region, why is there still a fire prohibition?
A: While the risk of wildfire in your area may have decreased, the provincial wildfire situation may be different and more active. As a result, personnel from across the province may be responding to fires outside of their regional and fire centre boundaries, limiting the amount of resources available in wetter areas.
In these situations, fires also present an unacceptable risk and detract from detection and response capabilities by increasing the number of ‘false-alarm’ smoke chases, wildfire phone reports and nuisance fires.
Q: Why are large, land clearing pile fires allowed when smaller fires are prohibited?
A: Current procedures require all Category 3 open fires, including land clearing piles, to be registered. This makes it relatively easy to revoke or reinstate these registration numbers as local weather impacts fire danger. BC Wildfire Service encourages the reduction of wildfire hazard from land clearing debris and has found the flexibility of the burn registration process useful to allow safe burning of large piles when weather is favourable.
To register a Category 3 open fire, please call 1 888 797-1717 toll free.
Q: What happens if I have a fire when a prohibition is in place?
A: Anyone found in contravention of a fire prohibition may be fined up to $1,150. If your fire escapes and results in a wildfire, you may be fined anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million and be sentenced to one year in prison.
Full list of wildfire-related violation fines in B.C.
Q: What can I use when there is a campfire ban in place?
A: Some activities and devices are permitted when a campfire ban is in place and some are not. This varies depending on the prohibition itself; check details of the current bans and restrictions.
Often, campfire prohibitions still allow the use of CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or of portable campfire apparatus that use briquettes, liquid fuel or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm tall. However, in extreme fire conditions these may also be prohibited
Often, other activities are also prohibited when Category 2 open fire and/or campfire prohibitions are in force, these include:
- Larger fires (Category 2 and Category 3)
- Burning barrels and burning cages
- Fireworks, fire crackers, sky lanterns
- Binary exploding targets
Check Current Bans and Restrictions for full details.