Fire Tools and Enforcement at Homesite Creek

Complaint Investigation 980160
April 1999

Nature of the Complaint

Timber sale licence A48267 is located immediately adjacent to a rural-residential area, and forest practices there have met with opposition from local residents.

In August 1998, the complainant discovered two fallers cutting a road right-of-way within the licence area. The complainant believed that operations were not permitted in the cutblock at that time, and that the fallers did not have the required fire fighting equipment with them on site and close at hand. The fire danger class was rated as "high" for that day.

The complaint was filed with the Board the next day. The complaint stated that:

  • two fallers had contravened the Forest Fire Prevention and Suppression Regulation because they were working without the required fire fighting equipment on site,
  • signs warning the public of falling activity were not present at all access points around the block,
  • government enforcement was inappropriate because the Ministry of Forests had failed to ensure that the fallers had the necessary fire fighting equipment on site, and
  • operations were taking place despite the fact that the complainant had been assured that operations would not be allowed until a possible trespass had been investigated.

Scope of the Investigation

The investigation addressed two main questions:

  • Did the licensee comply with the requirements of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act and its related regulations (the Code)?

  • Was government enforcement of the requirements of the Code appropriate?

The Board investigation focused on the specific issues of fire tools and government enforcement of fire tool requirements, signs, and whether operations took place within the timber sale licence area when not allowed by the Ministry of Forests.

The investigation did not examine the alleged unauthorized harvesting because the issue was already under investigation by the Ministry of Forests. The Board considered the ministry investigation to be an existing administrative procedure that was appropriate to deal with the issue in the circumstances.


The Board reached the following conclusions regarding the issues investigated in this complaint:

  • The required fire fighting tools were available at the worksite when fallers were working within the timber sale area. The licensee complied with the requirements of the Forest Fire Prevention and Suppression Regulation.

  • The Code does not require that warning signs be placed at entry points to cutblocks, thus there was no contravention of the Code. Signage is regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation under the Workers' Compensation Act.

  • The Ministry of Forests conducted two fire tool inspections on two days of operations and found that operations were in compliance with the requirements of the Forest Fire Prevention and Suppression Regulation. Government enforcement of fire tool requirements was extremely prompt and appropriate.

  • The Ministry of Forests did not have the authority to issue a stop work order for all operations within the licence area, and as a result operations were not prohibited.
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