Fire services bylaw includes fireworks changes

Changes are being made to the County of Wetaskiwin’s fire services bylaw and one hot topic of discussion revolves...

Changes are being made to the County of Wetaskiwin’s fire services bylaw and one hot topic of discussion revolves around fireworks uses and permitting.

With the proposed bylaw, a permit for the sale of fireworks will be required, as well as permits for possession and discharge.

Director of emergency services Mike Zajac says the county still needs to have a conversation with the fire guardians on what their role will be regarding approving permits. “They may say, we don’t want to take up any extra time and do that. So then we’ll have to go back to the drawing board at that point.”

County CAO Frank Coutney explains, if a business want to sell fireworks it would have to contact Zajac for an inspection, who would give them a certificate lasting one year if approved. “At this point we’re saying no cost.”

Those looking to purchase fireworks also need a permit. “The intent is they would go on-site to give a permit, like they do a fire permit,” said Coutney. “In some cases the individual may not be on the right property.”

Before a possession permit could be issued a site inspection would be required. “We’re not looking at doing a cost for that. However, there would be operational costs,” said Zajac.

Operational costs would stem from the use of the fire guardian, the millage, the wage. However, Zajac says he cannot predict what those costs would be with no precedent on which to base an opinion.

Another stipulation is individuals will have to apply for a possession permit two working days in advance.

“We’re not allowing discharge on county property, so in parks and things like that,” said Zajac. This includes county or provincial campgrounds, but a privately owned campground would be at the discretion of the owner.

A concern of council was how campers and other individuals would face enforcement under they bylaw.

“The way it works is pursuant to the Alberta Fire Code,” said Zajac.

Zajac explained to councillors during their June 14 meeting that the majority of the bylaw is directly from the Alberta Fire Code and not just information he personally felt was relevant.

He added with the permitting rules and guidelines in place the county is complying with provincial standards but enforcement levels still stay similar to what they are now.

“My concern is we’re spending a lot of time on this and I don’t see it as a priority,” said Coun. Larry McKeever.

The first reading of the bylaw was passed and a draft will be distributed to the fire departments, fire societies and fire guardians for feedback, due by July 31.