FAQs

Please click on the following question headings for the answers below.

Q: Is "Backyard Burning" allowed? I have branches / leaves / garden waste I wish to remove from my property.
Q: I would like to have a campfire in my backyard, or perhaps start up my "chiminea" (or any other portable fireplace). Is this permitted?
Q: What number do I call if I need to talk to the fire department, but it's not an emergency?
Q: My smoke alarm “chirps,” what should I do?
Q: My smoke alarm goes off for no reason. Why?
Q: Why do I get connected to the Fire Hall when I dial Nelson Hydro, Public Works, City Hall or Nelson City Police?
Q: Do you have any openings for auxiliary or career fire fighters? Are you accepting applications?
Q: Do I need to contact you to install a wood stove or fireplace?
Q: Is the Fire Department involved in the removal of heating oil tanks?
Q: Am I allowed to use fireworks in the city?

Is "Backyard Burning" allowed? I have branches / leaves / garden waste I wish to remove from my property.

Generally, no, backyard burning is not allowed.  At the discretion of the Fire Chief, however, a brief period of time may be opened up to the citizens of Nelson to participate in a limited "backyard burn."  While this period is usually in April or May and is only for a couple of weeks, it is by no means a guaranteed annual occurrence.  It is generally to facilitate in the mitigation of built up fuels (piles of wood) which would be very difficult to transport to the transfer station.

When backyard burning IS allowed, citizens need to come to the Fire Hall to apply for a temporary burn permit.  These permits are issued, in person, at the Fire Hall (not at City Hall).  Burning without a permit may result in a fine or a "fee for service".  Applicants must meet certain basic safety and burn material requirements prior to a permit being issued to an address.  The permit will cover the address for the entire burning period.  Once a permit has been issued to an address, owners must call the fire hall prior to lighting their pile of yard debris.  This helps avoid the embarrassment of a fire truck arriving at your home, with lights on and sirens blaring.  When calling the fire hall, owners will find out if the venting forecast is favorable to a burn that day; if conditions are poor, the burn will have to be done another day.  There is a $10 fee for the permit, payable by cash or cheque at the fire hall.

Please note that outside of this brief window of opportunity, fires outside a dwelling are not allowed in the city, not even for a backyard campfire or in a backyard fireplace (portable or otherwise).

The Fire Regulations and Fire Prevention bylaw can be found on the "Bylaws" page of this website.

The following is an excerpt:

6.4 Prohibition and Exceptions for Open Air Burning

No person shall light, ignite, start or burn any fire in the open air or in any portable incinerator, outdoor fireplace or other portable appliance or device in the open air for any purpose, with the exception of the following purposes:

6.4.1. Barbecues - charcoal, natural gas or propane gas fires contained within barbecues or other approved appliances for the sole purpose of cooking food, and propane heaters shall be permitted;

6.4.3. Camp Fires - in fire pits in campgrounds or tourist parks where approved by the Fire Chief... <top of page>


I would like to have a campfire in my backyard, or perhaps start up my "chiminea" (or any other portable fireplace). Is this permitted?

This time the answer is "No, with exceptions." Camp fires are not permitted, nor are fires in chimineas. Read over the applicable bylaw (see the question / answer regarding backyard burning) for more details. The exceptions are: CSA approved appliances which have been cleared by the Fire Chief. To achieve this clearance, contact the fire hall (352-3103). Prior to calling, however, ensure the appliance DOES have the CSA mark of approval. If it does not, it will not be permitted. <top of page>


What number do I call if I need to talk to the Fire Department, but it's not an emergency?

Call 250-352-3103 to reach our office. We have someone answering the phones 24 hours a day. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call. <top of page>


My smoke alarm “chirps,” what should I do?

Look at your owner's manual. Usually this is the sign of a weak battery. <top of page>


My smoke alarm goes off for no reason. Why?

Often the cause of these false alarms is spiders and insects in the detectors. Fruit flies are notorious for getting into the detectors. Use a vacuum to remove them. You may need to do this several times a year, depending upon your situation. <top of page>


Why do I get connected to the Fire Hall when I dial Nelson Hydro, Public Works, City Hall or Nelson City Police?

After regular work hours we answer the phones for the rest of the City departments. If there's a need to call out Public Works or Nelson Hydro, for instance, we dispatch them to the scene. In the case of Nelson City Police, when their incoming phone lines are all in use, the overflow is channelled to the fire hall's phones. <top of page>


Do you have any openings for auxiliary or career fire fighters? Are you accepting applications?

Check the Recruitment section of our site, or look for advertisements in the local newspapers. You are always welcome to call the fire hall at 250-352-3103 or come in for a visit to ask more questions about qualification requirements. <top of page>


Do I need to contact you to install a wood stove or fireplace?

No. You should contact the City of Nelson's Building Department regarding installation guidelines for wood burning stoves and fireplaces. <top of page>


Is the fire department involved in the removal of heating oil tanks?

Not any more. Go to the BC Ministry of the Environment website and search "residential heating oil storage tank.”  You'll find a link to a PDF document which explains all the details and responsibilities. <top of page>


Am I allowed to use fireworks in the city?

Fireworks are only permitted in the City of Nelson when used under the direction of a federally certified “display fireworks supervisor”, and as permitted by the Fire Chief. For those of you with small, family-sized fireworks, that means you are not allowed to use them within city limits. In Nelson, there have been many instances of such fireworks causing serious personal harm to users and, on more than one occasion, they have been the cause of devastating house fires. If you want to see fireworks, Nelson's fire fighters put on a professional show for the entire city's enjoyment every Canada Day (July 1st).  <top of page>

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