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Carbonear Fire Chief advises caution with fires during camping season

Brent Sweeney of the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department warns that fires need to be carefully maintained at all times.
Brent Sweeney of the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department warns that fires need to be carefully maintained at all times.

CARBONEAR - With May 24th weekend coming up, Brent Sweeney of the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department reminds campers to keep fire safety on the forefront of their minds.

The Victoria Day long weekend  - otherwise known as May 24th weekend – is a favourite among Newfoundlanders, who often like to spend the weekend camping with friends and family.

In the wake of a recent brush fire in Freshwater, Sweeney urges everyone to take extra care with fires during the upcoming weekend, as amongst all the fun is a heightened risk of campfires and bonfires getting out of hand, says Sweeney.

“Everyone loves to get away for the long weekend, and rightfully so,” Sweeney told The Compass, “but it’s important for people to remember that fire safety should be one of their top priorities when they’re out camping, or at their cabins.”

Sweeney went on to explain that there are some fairly simple things that people can do before camping that can help prevent any dangerous accidents. Some of these things include having appliances like heaters and furnaces inside cabins checked by certified technicians before being put to use after months of being dormant, or making sure any fire pits are contained and not open for the fire to spread through dead grass, trees, or other dry plant life.

A brush fire in Freshwater on Sunday, May 7th, required the help of a water bomber to douse flames.

Another note Sweeney made was for campers to make sure they always carry fire essentials with them on camping trips. He says that these include extra buckets or other containers of water, an axe, a shovel, and of course, common sense.
“All fire pits should be near some kind of water source,” added Sweeney. “A small fire can be relaxing when you’re out camping, but it can easily get out of hand. That’s why people need to always be on their toes, because you never know what might happen.”
Something like a small fire can be easily maintained and contained in a safe environment, but once it gets out of hand, Sweeney says the fire department needs to be on the scene, which could potentially become a problem all on its own.

“Campfires are easy to control in the right circumstances,” explained Sweeney. “But if someone is being careless, and the fire gets out of hand, then we here at the fire department need to get involved. And if we need to be in the woods dealing with a mistake like that, that means we’ve got a smaller team to answer calls for even bigger, more dangerous calls like a house fire. That can all be easily avoided if people just be careful.”

The Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department does not only deal with calls relating to fires, and Sweeney says that campers need to be careful when it comes to alcohol consumption as well.

“Drinking and driving is always an issue as well,” Sweeney added. “People driving ATVs without a helmet, after having a few beer, that’s just as dangerous, and not to mention very illegal, and I think sometimes people tend to forget that.”

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