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Hazard reduction burning is an annual spring process and is a way to protect the community from fire by pre-burning some of the cured grass from high-risk areas in town. Some of the areas include walking paths and areas closely bordering homes.
On Friday, May 1, HLFD burned grass along the walking path between Bushe River and High Level on the East side of town. There is frequent foot traffic in that area, and the burn was completed in order to reduce the risk from an improperly extinguished cigarette or other event that could start a grassfire that would move into the forested area in that part of town.
Common burn areas include the north end of town along the creek, as well as any grassy areas in the community that potentially provide a hazard.
Hazard reduction burning is part of the overall FireSmart strategy for the Town, used alongside other activities such as tree thinning and debris removal in forested areas. The three activities are some of the main ways the fire department can reduce the amount of fire fuel in the community.
Left untreated, layers of dead grass would pile up and become a serious fire hazard. By burning the grass off, it can be removed in a controlled situation before it becomes a danger.
Hazard reduction burning will be ongoing for the next few weeks in partnership with Alberta Wildfire. Inter-agency cooperation is a key component for the burning, which allows the two groups to become familiar with one another prior to any large-scale incidents that may take place.
Additionally, this year HLFD has an advantage with the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Team being available for a more continual effort. In the past, burning was done based on availability of volunteers.
It is important for the public to monitor social media for announcements about burning activities in the community to avoid being alarmed by the sight of smoke. Additionally, the fire department would ask local residents refrain from congregating in areas where burn activities are taking place.
Local residents are also reminded that the fire department performs hazard reduction burning in a controlled environment with proper equipment and training. Residents should not be using this tactic for their own yards – burning grass is not permitted under Town bylaws.