Ban firepits during air quality advisories

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Ban firepits during air quality advisories

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:59 pm

Ban firepits during air quality advisories, council committee urges

By Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal November 13, 2014

EDMONTON - Backyard firepits in Edmonton should be doused when air quality is bad, a council committee recommended Thursday.

“It would just make sense to ask people not to burn stuff when there’s a forest fire and haze stretches across the city,” Coun. Mike Nickel said.

He and other members of the community services committee were sympathetic to concerns raised by two speakers, who argued backyard fires can cause health problems.

“It’s based on the premise that people have the right to enjoy their own property,” Coun. Ben Henderson said.

“There are people that are severely affected right now in their ability to enjoy their own property and we’re not able to help them.”

The proposed bylaw amendment to ban burning during air quality or health advisories will come to the committee next year and needs council approval before becoming law.

But retired firefighter William Quinn, who said he investigated fires so smoky he could hardly see across the yard, insisted councillors didn’t go far enough.

“My concern is primarily health and well-being,” said Quinn, who wants all backyard fires outlawed as has happened in other Canadian cities.

“The trade-off should have been to have (had them) in the parks … Advocates of firepits could have retreated to park areas and enjoyed them.”

Diane Newman, who also wants the practice banned, said current rules don’t deal with drifting smoke that can blanket multiple properties.

“After a hot day, I cannot open windows to cool down the house. On a cool day, I can’t start the furnace because the cold-air intake includes smoke.”

In July, Alberta Health Services put out air quality advisories for Edmonton and central Alberta for almost three weeks because of smoke from forest fires in the North and B.C. Committee members also asked for suggestions on ways to deal with extreme problems from neighbouring fires that can’t be resolved through mediation.

This might include Nickel’s proposal to escalate fines from the current $250 for repeat offenders.

Staff might also step up campaigns to teach people the rules about backyard fires.

Less than 10 of the roughly 200 annual complaints lead to tickets.

Most complaints involve improperly located or constructed firepits, or burning prohibited material such as painted wood, leaves or garbage.

But Coun. Scott McKeen said he doesn’t want to eliminate firepits entirely.

“We’re not talking about banning backyard firepits here. We’re not talking about permits,” he said.

“I hope we can tweak (the rules) to deal with people who have had serious quality-of-life or health issues.”
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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