Campfires are an appealing feature of many camping, motorized and non-motorized adventures. However, campfires can and do leave long lasting impacts. Before having a campfire, ask yourself:
- Is a fire really needed?
- Can I use a portable stove to cook my food?
- Are the conditions safe to have a fire?
- Is there enough downed and dead wood?
Impact of careless campfire use
Many of the wildfires that the Government of Alberta puts out each summer are started by campfires, 2,913 between 2004 and 2014. These numbers not only impact you as a tax payer but also the wildlife, their habitat, other public land users, the safety of Albertans and your future recreational opportunities.
Responsible campfire use
If campfires are important to you and you do choose to have one while on public lands, please follow these points below and be familiar with the legislative requirements in the Forest and Prairie Protection Act:
If there is a campfire facility nearby, official or unofficial, use it.
If there are no facilities, do the following:
- Select a site away from:
- dry grass
- heavy bush
- peaty areas
- trees and overhanging branches
- Clear the vegetation away.
- Dig or scrape down to the mineral soil approximately one metre (3.28 feet) in diameter.
- Put stones, gravel or sand around the pit to contain the embers.
- Clear dry leaves, grass and twigs for one metre (3.28 feet) around the pit.
Use downed and dead wood as fuel for your fire.
Remember: you require a permit to cut live vegetation for fire wood.
For further information on tree cutting permits, visit Where to Buy Tree Cutting Permit.
Use kindling or small branches to start your fire.
Never use lighter fluid or gasoline!
Keep your fire small.
Keep water nearby in case your fire gets out of control.
When leaving the site, ensure that your fire is completely out.
- Let the fire burn down.
- Once the fire has burned down, spread out the remains evenly within the pit and slowly add water or loose dirt (sand) and stir.
- Continue adding water or dirt until you can no longer see smoke or steam.
- The fire is out and it is safe to leave once you can put your hand over the remains and:
- you feel no heat, or
- you can touch the ashes
During high fire hazards, campfires may be banned or restricted in areas. Failure to comply with fire bans and/or the orders of Forest Officers can lead to serious enforcement actions.