Summer continues to bring drier-than-normal conditions to Coquitlam's forested areas as the city remains on a "high" fire danger rating to start August.
As a result, more safety patrols, including bylaw, fire and RCMP, are being sent out to local parks and green spaces to make sure fire risks stay minimal.
But Coquitlam Fire/Rescue Chief Jim Ogloff says the public's help is also needed as simple neglect of the surrounding environment could ignite a big blaze.
"This includes following city bylaws that ban open air burning, and not littering cigarette butts or smoking in parks," he explained in a statement.
"Residents should also be alert to signs of fire. Report any signs of smoke or fire by calling 9-1-1 immediately."
And those that choose to ignore the bylaws could burn a bigger unwanted hole in their wallet.
In June, Coquitlam approved a fine increase on smoking and vaping in local parks to $500 from $150, which includes cannabis, tobacco and e-cigarettes.
Ogloff said more parks staff and bylaw enforcement has been deployed "with the primary focus on education."
"Despite the city's ongoing public awareness measures and smoking not being allowed in parks, incorrect disposal of cigarette butts remains one of the leading causes of fires in parks, forests and dry grass."
He added the officers will also identify problem areas where there could be an increased risk of a fire sparking unexpectedly.
What can I do?
In 2021, Coquitlam partnered with Anmore, Belcarra and Port Coquitlam to receive a joint grant from B.C.'s FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund.
Two years of research since has found that more than 7,000 properties are at a greater risk for wildfires located in the wildland–urban interface area.
Ogloff is asking residents to take steps that can both reduce and limit the risk of fire in the community, including:
- Do not smoke in parks
- Do not litter cigarette butts ($150 fine)
- Do not have any open fires or outdoor burning
- Relocate flammable debris or firewood at least 10 metres (30 feet) away from your home
- Avoid hitting rocks when mowing your lawn
- A blade could unintentionally spark a fire
- Ensure your vehicle's exhaust does not emit onto a dry lawn
- Prune your shrubs, remove dead and dry vegetation and ensure tree limbs are at least two metres from the ground
- Break up vegetation and tree canopies so they don't create a line leading to your home
- Keep your roof and gutters clear of dead needles and prune branches that hang over the roof
For more information, you can visit the summer fire safety page of the City of Coquitlam's website.