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preventing fires
at the cottage

Be Aware, Be Prepared


Practice good outdoor fire safety by knowing the rules according to burning bylaws in the Municipality of Highlands East or in  Dysart, as well as the current fire hazard rating.
  • Small fires are permitted in most areas of Highlands East/Dysart as long as the following rules are followed:
  • There is no daytime burning permitted during the fire season (April 1 to October 31) without a permit. Fires may take place only during the time from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
  • Your fire can be no greater than 0.6 metres (approximately 2 feet) in diameter.
  • Your fire must be setback a minimum of 10 metres (33 feet) from any structure.
  • Only environmentally friendly materials may be burned.
  • The smoke from your fire cannot interfere with your neighbours or a roadway.
  • You must have sufficient tools and water available to put the fire out should the need arise.
  • You must be with your fire at all times.
  • If the fire hazard rating is high, consider another activity.
  • If there is a fire ban in effect, you MUST OBSERVE it!



  • Install smoke alarms on every story of your home, outside all sleeping areas, AND in all outbuildings e.g. bunkies.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly. 
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries regularly, and replace the alarm itself every eight years.
  • If you have an appliance fired by wood or fossil fuel, or an attached garage, install a carbon-monoxide detector.
  • Have your smoke alarms monitored so the monitoring station can send the fire department if you are not there to call yourself.


  • Install fire extinguishers in kitchens, garages, sheds and bunkies, near BBQs and fire pits, and on board power boats.
  • Follow instructions for storage, maintenance, recharging and disposal of extinguishers.
  • Learn to use them effectively.


  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a professional.
    Creosote build-up in the chimney can cause a fire and leaky fireplaces can allow carbon monoxide to escape into the cottage. 
  • Install a screened cap or diffuser on your chimney to prevent flying sparks.
  • Allow ashes from fires to cool completely before spreading them on the ground – soak them with water to be sure.


  • Store flammables such as propane and gasoline in a metal shed or non-combustible storage bin away from any buildings. The location of flammables should be clearly identified for firefighters.
  • Keep your BBQ clean and free from grease build up. Clean the grease pan regularly.
  • Keep flammable paper and fabric away from electric heaters, outlets and open flames.



  • Install a lightning rod; they provide a safe path for the electrical current to the ground.
  • Install a surge protector on your electrical panel or fuse box.

Landscaping & Maintenance

  • Create a fire break around the cottage with gravel or stone walkways.
  • Store firewood and lumber at least 10 metres (33 feet) from the cottage buildings.
  • Keep the roof and rain gutters free of dried leaves and pine needles.
  • Remove dead wood, brush and leaves from around the cottage.
  • Prune back overhanging branches around the cottage buildings.
  • Replace highly flammable trees near buildings like pine and fir with less combustible species.

Fire Pit Construction

  • Pick a site that is close to a water source, sheltered from the wind, and 10 metres away from structures.

  • Make sure there is open space above the fire – at least 3 metres (10 feet) from overhanging branches and vegetation

  • Clear a space about 2 metres (7 feet) wide for the fire – remove pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs and scrape the area right down to the rock or soil.  Make sure it isn’t humus (dead vegetation) as this will as this will smoulder like a peat fire.

Thanks to KLA member Rob Horsburgh for his photograph of Wallace Island used as the background photo throughout this site

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