Changes to B.C. Wildfire Regulation

Amendments to the B.C. Wildfire Regulation, a regulation under the Wildfire Act, were approved by the Province of British Columbia on April 24, 2023.

The changes clarify responsibilities related to high-risk activities and open fire use within provincial jurisdictions and help prevent human-caused wildfires. Category 1 campfires and category 4 resource management open fire have been renamed to match the existing wording in the Wildfire Regulation (there are no changes to the definition or size of any of these open fires).

A definition of an outdoor stove has been added to the Regulation. An outdoor stove is a CSA-rated or ULC-rated device used outdoors for cooking, heat or ambiance that burns charcoal briquettes, liquid fuel or gaseous fuel, and has a flame height that is less than 15 cm tall.

Some obligations of people using open fire have been clarified. For example, where a fuel break must be placed and where an open fire must not spread from. For category 3 open fire, which includes larger-scale pile burning, a new requirement has been added to document actions taken to confirm that these open fires are extinguished.

The Wildfire Regulation has also been amended to clarify that an open fire must remain in control at all times even if the fire is still within a fuel break. If a fire becomes out of control – regardless of whether the fire is within or outside of the fuel break – the person must carry out fire control immediately and extinguish and report the fire.

The duties related to fire watchers, which are sometimes required after high risk activities occur, have been clarified to better describe when a fire watch needs to begin, and to ensure that fire watchers may detect and respond to fires during the fire watch period.

First Nations woodland licences are now included in the definition of a qualified holder. These licences have the same rights and obligations as other tenure types included in the definition of a qualified holder. The implication of being a qualified holder is that the timelines for completing fire hazard assessment and abatement are more flexible than for a non-qualified holder. In addition, there are different requirements for fuel breaks for qualified holders when using category 3 open fires for hazard abatement within a cut block.

You can read the Fact Sheet here for some common questions about the changes.

The Wildfire Regulation applies throughout BC, unless otherwise indicated in the legislation. Please check with local authorities for any bylaws that may apply to your activity. The Order in Council setting out the amendments is available here [link], and the entire Wildfire Regulation can be found here.