News Local

City may snuff out chimineas

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Chimineas could flame out in Barrie by 2012.

City councillors will consider banning outdoor solid fuel burni

ng appliances by then, for health, staffing and cost reasons.

Barrie Deputy Fire Chief Rick Monkman says dealing with complaints takes firefighters, and city staff, away from other duties

"It does take up a lot of time," he said. "It takes time for us (city firefighters), with crews on hand and bylaw enforcement officers.

"It's a growing city, but there are people who are not abiding by the rules or the bylaw. They have no permit, and if they do, the don't abide by it."

Between June 2005 and June 2006, city firefighters responded to 266 burning complaints involving these appliances.

Each response involved four firefighters, including a captain, and a front-line pumper. It was estimated to cost $450 per complaint, for a total of $119,700.

Barrie's fire department surveyed 10 cities about this issue at the time, and all prohibited the appliances, or were in the process of banning them.

In 2007, city council passed a bylaw to regulate the burning appliances and monitor complaints for two years.

At the time, they were exempt from the current bylaws that regulate the setting of open fires.

Permits were free, and since then 4,500 have been issued -- with only eight revoked. There were 190 complaints in 2008 and 198 complaints last year.

But Barrie Fire Chief John Lynn says complaint calls are on the upswing again.

The cost of providing the free permits and responding to comp l a i nt s is now estimated at $50,000 annually.

The complaints also tie up fire crews, delaying their response to emergency incidents and hurting their coverage of the city.

There's also the health factor.

Lynn says studies have shown that particles in wood smoke can cause damage to the human respiratory system and that this particle matter often seeps into homes.

Wood smoke also exacerbates existing conditions, such as asthma and emphysema, and can lead to respiratory illness in children.

Burning wood does contribute to pollution by producing smoke and gases which contain sulphur, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other gases, as well as cancer-causing compounds, according to Environment Canada.

If the ban is approved by council, permits would no longer be issued and the appliances could be used until Jan. 1, 2012.

Since the life expectancy of these appliances is about two years, this would allow existing chimineas to run their course of use.

"They do break down," said Monkman.

"That's why there is a grace period."

The metal ones rust and warp, he said, while the porcelain appliances eventually crack.

The set fine for operating one after Jan. 1. 2012 would likely be $350.

These burning appliances are defined as portable or fixed in place, made of non-combustible material, containing a chamber located within a fire box used to contain a flame, a stack to control the flow of air or combustible gases from the appliance, a spark arrestor at the top to control sparks, and enclosed on all sides.

The ban wouldn't include natural gas or propane-fired outdoor fireplaces.

Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »