Sundridge residents don't have to worry about the municipality making it illegal to set off fireworks.
That was a concern by some residents when council began talking about whether fireworks should be restricted in some way because of safety concerns.
However, Sundridge-Strong Volunteer Fire Chief Andrew Torrance says rather than ban them, the practice of deploying fireworks will be worked into the municipality's open-air burning bylaw.
Torrance said there are rules governing the sale, storage and transportation of fireworks, but until now there was no language on how and when they could be used.
Over the years, people have expressed concerns about fireworks from a hazard and nuisance standpoint. These concerns were brought to council's attention, which then gave Torrance the job of looking into how similar-sized communities handle fireworks.
He found many incorporated their usage into existing bylaws.
In the simplest of terms, Torrance says the rules overseeing the use of fireworks follow the same rules as campfires.
“So it's still something people can do, provided they understand the parameters,” Torrance said.
“There has to be a responsible adult and there have to be suppression items at the scene, like water, shovel or sand.”
Torrance adds when setting off fireworks, the user must make sure they are “a safe distance from combustible materials.”
The fire chief says this could be something like a house, fence or trees.
How strong the wind is when fireworks are going to be set off also has to be considered.
Torrance says this means people can set off fireworks in their backyard as long as they keep that safety margin in mind.
“So it does mean that for some people it may not be possible to set them off in their yards because of the lay of the land,” he said.
The open-air burning bylaw also governs campfires when the fire danger rating ranges from low to extreme.
Torrance says when the fire rating rises to high or extreme, people must get permission from the fire department to use fireworks.
Factoring into whether the fire department will approve the use of fireworks during a high to extreme fire rating period is the kind of terrain where they will be set off.
Torrance says each individual must carry out this risk assessment, ensure suppression materials are at hand and consider what the weather is like.
He says these rules are to keep people safe and from damaging any area, adding in one way it's no different than how people currently treat campfires.
“If we're going to be really careful with campfires, we should be really careful with fireworks as well,” he said.
The burn bylaw allows people to set off fireworks any time of the year, but not during the day or after 11 p.m.
Torrance says the municipal noise bylaw will prohibit their use after 11 p.m.
If people believe someone is not following the open-air burning bylaw once in place, they can call the bylaw enforcement officer or the local fire department.
Torrance also asks that if people need to complain to not call 911.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget