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Outdoor fire safety

Fire safety is not only a concern inside the home but it is also important outdoors. Learn tips that can be taken to prevent open air fires.

Open air fires

Open air fires are permitted with a burn permit

Open Air Fire Permits (Burn Permits)

Burn Permits (or Open Air Fire Permits) are issued under the Open Air Fire By-law No. 2004-163, which regulates the conditions under which fires may be set in the open air.

Is my property eligible for an Open Air Fire Permit or Outdoor Fireplace and Campfire?

Please find your property (area/location) on the Burn Zone Schedule to confirm if you are able to obtain an Open Air Fire Permit or have an Outdoor Fireplace and Campfire.

Further details are as follows:

  • A permit is required in order to light a fire on private property; this includes having a backyard fire or using a large fire pit.
  • A permit is not necessary for outdoor natural gas, propane or ethanol fireplaces.
  • If a device is designed and intended solely for the cooking of food in the open air, it does not require an open air fire permit, provided it does not burn wood, tree limbs, branches and non-compostable material limited to paper and sisal twine. Approved cooking appliances include gas, charcoal or propane BBQ/hibachis or gas or propane outdoor fireplace [must be ULC approved].

Where can I obtain an Open Air Fire Permit?

Open Air Fire Permits can be obtained at any City of Ottawa Client Service Centre.

The following client service centres only issue Open Air Fire Permits, one day per week, in accordance with the following schedule.

Area, Hours of Operation
Address
Metcalfe
Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
8243 Victoria St.
Metcalfe, ON K0A 2P0
West Carleton
Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
5670 Carp Rd.
Kinburn, ON K0A 2H0
North Gower
Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
2155 Roger Stevens Dr.
North Gower, ON KOA 2T0

Open Air Fire Permits can also be obtained at the following Rural Fire Administration Offices below. Please contact the office you wish to visit by phone in advance to ensure that someone is available to assist you upon arrival.

Rural Fire Administration Offices
Hours of Operation
Address
District 6 
 
 
 
 
Tuesday and Thursday
8:30am - 04:00pm
Carp Fire Station
475 Donald B Munro Drive , Carp ON  K0A 1L0
613-580-2424, ext. 32260
District 7 
Tuesday - Wednesday
8:30am - 04:00pm
Vars Fire Station, 6090 Rockdale Rd.
R.R. 1 Vars, ON K0A 3H0
613-835-1682
District 8 
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
8:30am - 04:00pm
Stittsville Fire Station,
1643 Stittsville Main St.
Stittsville, ON K2S 1A5
613-580-2424, ext. 32260
District 9 
Monday,Thursday and Friday
8:30am - 04:00pm
Manotick Fire Station,
5669 Manotick Main St.
Manotick, ON K4M 1K1
613-692-3301

Payment options: Cash, cheque, debit and credit card payment is accepted at all locations above.

For more details on days and locations, call 613-580-2880.

Specific Event Permits can only be obtained at the Fire Prevention Division, 1445 Carling Avenue, given the requirement for a site inspection by Ottawa Fire Services staff prior to permit issuance.

Ottawa Fire Services
Fire Prevention Division
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
1445 Carling Avenue, Ottawa ON K1Z 7L9

A specific event permit allows open air fires (based on approval from Ottawa Fire Services, Fire Prevention division) that are normally not allowed in designated no burn areas of the City. Only a community not-for-profit organization or a religious institution may apply for an open air fire permit to conduct campfires or open air fires in an outdoor fireplace for cultural, religious or recreational specific events.

Please allow a minimum of 15 business days to process your permit application. Payment ($50) is due upon permit issuance, not upon application. 

Cash ( exact change only), cheques, credit or debit cards are accepted for a Specific Event Permit only at Fire Prevention Division, 1445 Carling Avenue

What is the cost of a permit?

  • $13 (tax included) for an Annual Permit 
  • $13 (tax included) for an Annual Agricultural Permit that may include up to four (4) properties 
  • $50 (tax included) for a Specific Event Permit 

Do I need any special information in order to apply for a permit?

Identification is required to obtain a new Open Air Fire Permit.  Acceptable ID is a Driver’s Licence or a City of Ottawa Tax bill.

If you are applying for an Annual Agricultural Permit, you must provide a copy of your Farm Business Registration Number at the time of application. This permit will allow you to burn windrows fires overnight from Monday to Friday. These types of fires are usually left to burn for days at a time due to their size (i.e., 50 metres in length, 5 metres in width and 3 metres in height) and require supervision at all times. For more information on Annual Agricultural Permits or windrows fires, please contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1.

You must be the legal owner of a property to obtain a permit for it. If you do not own the property, you must provide written consent from the landowner authorizing your permit application.

What forms of payment are accepted?

Cash, cheques, credit or debit cards are accepted at all Client Service Centres.

Only cash and cheques are accepted at the Ottawa Fire Services locations, which do not have the capability to accept other forms of payment.

Cash ( exact change only), cheques, credit or debit cards are accepted for a Specific Event Permit only at Fire Prevention Division, 1445 Carling Avenue

Where can I get a copy of the Open Air Fire By-law?

The Open Air Fire By-law is available on the City’s website or by calling 3-1-1.

Do I have to notify Ottawa Fire Services before I start an open air fire?

Yes. Prior to setting an open air fire, you must first contact Ottawa Fire Services at 613-580-2880 to ensure there that a fire ban is not in effect.

For campfires and outdoor fireplaces you will be asked to follow the conditions and regulations within your permit.

However, if you are burning wood in any other form, such as brush piles, you will be asked to report the Open Air Fire and Permit number at which time you will be provided with a reference number.

For how long will my new permit be valid?

Annual, Annual Restricted and Annual Agricultural Permits are valid from the date of issue until the end of the calendar year (December 31). Specific Event Permits are valid for the date(s) specified on the permit.

Starting December 1, permits can be purchased for the upcoming year.

Renewal forms are sent every year to the home owners who had a permit the previous year.  (No ID is needed for renewal of a permit, identification is only required to obtain a new Open Air Permit)

Why are open air fires prohibited in some areas of the city?

It is unsafe to set and maintain open air fires in certain areas of the City. Population density and average lot size criteria were considered in the determination of the areas in which open air fires are permitted. Risk management issues, such as proximity to dense forest of certain types, were also considered.

Is the use of an outdoor fireplace (either masonry or metal) considered open air burning?

Yes. Although these fireplaces are designed to be used outdoors rather than indoors and may limit the heat and sparks through their design, these reduced levels are still cause for concern. Ottawa Fire Services does not approve of open air burning in urban areas or near buildings. Therefore, outdoor fireplaces are not permitted in urban areas.

What is a fire ban and why can I not have an open air fire when a fire ban is in effect?

A fire ban, which is declared by the Fire Chief or his designate and is based largely on environmental conditions, is a period of time during which no one may set or maintain any open air fire anywhere within the city limits for reasons related to public safety and protection of property.

Do I need to know my permit number?

Yes. It is a requirement to not only be aware of your permit number for purposes of reporting/recording your open air fire to Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) but also to be able to produce the permit upon request, as stipulated by the by-law. Documentation of the locations of larger open air fires by OFS will help the reduce false alarms (i.e., unexpected responses to your home by Ottawa Fire Services).

Barbeques on balconies

While there are no municipal bylaws in Ottawa regarding barbeques on balconies, the Propane Storage and Handling Code (CAN/CSA-B149.2-05) regulates the storage, handling and transfer of propane and the installation of appliances and equipment.

Propane fuelled barbeques are regulated by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). The TSSA has provided the following requirements in regards to propane barbeques:

  • barbeques are approved for outdoor use only
  • propane cylinders must be safely stored and transported
  • propane cylinders are not to be stored inside any structure
  • always transport and store cylinders in an upright position
  • barbecuing on balconies of apartment buildings or condominium apartments may be prohibited by lease agreements or the Condominium Act (as the owner or agent for the property, building owners, property managers and Condominium Corporations have the legal authority to prohibit barbecuing on the property)
  • propane cylinders are to be transported in a service elevator or, when there are no service elevators, the person must use the passenger elevator alone to transport the cylinder
  • barbeques must be kept clear of all combustible materials as listed on the barbeque rating plate or certified instructions or must be a minimum of one metre (three feet) from combustible materials
  • propane cylinder relief valves must be at least one metre (three feet) horizontally from any building opening below it (including doors and windows); three metres (10 feet) horizontally from the air intake of any appliance or air-moving equipment; and three metres (10 feet) from any source of ignition

Ottawa Fire Services and safety experts with the TSSA recommend the following:

  • carefully inspect your barbeque to ensure that the burner is free of obstructions, rust or debris
  • replace any damaged parts with the appropriate replacement parts
  • test all gas connections for leaks with a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap
  • do not leave the barbeque unattended when in use

For persons living in apartment buildings and condominium apartments, Ottawa Fire Services recommends the use of electric barbeques bearing the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approval. Electric barbeques are a safe alternative to propane and charcoal barbeques.

Barbecuing on decks of single family and attached dwelling units follow the same restrictions provided above. Barbecuing in attached garages is prohibited because an attached garage with interior access to a home is considered part of the home and barbeques are approved for outdoor use only.

Homeowners are further advised to consider the dangers to life safety presented from carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, colourless and odourless poisonous gas often referred to as 'the silent killer'. Propane and charcoal fuelled barbeques produce carbon monoxide and, therefore, must be operated outdoors.

Additional information regarding safe barbecuing practices can be found on the TSSA website or by contacting Ottawa Fire Services at 613-580-2860.

Propane safety

Follow these safety tips to keep propane a clean, portable and safe fuel:

When transporting propane cylinders...

  • Keep valves closed and insert safety plugs, even when they are empty.
  • Always stand them upright in a well-ventilated area.
  • Always set them down gently.
  • Always secure them when transporting in vehicles. Try storing them in plastic milk crates.
  • Never leave them in a vehicle for extended periods of time.
  • Keep them away from heat or flame.

When using a propane tank...

  • Place and secure it on a firm base, away from excessive heat.
  • When connecting your cylinder, note that the cylinder-valve connection has a left-hand thread. This can only be used with appliances approved for propane.
  • After you have connected the cylinder, check for leaks. Use soapy water or a leak detector - never, never use matches or other open flames.
  • Fully open the cylinder valve so that it operates properly.
  • Always use a pressure-reducing regulator.
  • Do not let the propane cylinder get too hot-the pressure will rise.

When you are NOT using your propane cylinder...

  • Close the valve tightly, even when the tank is empty. Insert the safety plug.
  • Protect its valve-broken valves can leak.
  • Store the cylinder away from flame and heat.
  • Store your cylinder outdoors in a well-ventilated area when not in use.
  • Place it in a secure, upright position away from open flames or excessive heat.