Millcreek Philly

Fires at dump result of lacking public awareness

Fires at the Girouxville garbage dump have to stop and to make them stop it is up to the people who use the garbage dump to be aware of what they are doing.
This is the message that the municipality of Girouxville and regional fire chief, Denis Hamel would like to promote before anymore, unnecessary fires have to be extinguished.
Hamel says that they do not believe the three fires this year were set on purpose but are probably caused from burning barrels and smoldering ashes being dumped into the pit.
“It also might just be old ways of lighting garbage on fire once it’s in the pit,” says Hamel.
According to Estelle Girard, municipal administrator of Girouxville, the village can, and will file a civil suit to recoup the cost of putting out the fire.
“The village council would like it to be known they will file. Our budget is tight right now,” says Girard. “We can spend $10,00 in a year on these fires and to a small town with a tax base of 332, that’s a lot of money not budgeted for and incurred onto the budget.”
“If these people were found, it’s not criminal,” says Sgt. Andre Lemyre, of the McLennan RCMP. “To be criminal the person lighting the fire must have intent to do damage, in this kind of situation a person may not be criminally liable for their actions but civilly accountable.”
“The main message is the awareness,” says Hamel, “is if the fire is not out, do not dump it in the pit, instead put it on the ground in the dirt and let the workers deal with it.”
According to Hamel the easiest thing to do to prevent a fire would be to make sure that the garbage barrel is extinguished before throwing it in the pit by dumping water on it.
“It is against environmental laws to burn household garbage,” says Girard. “Only paper, cardboard, wood and paper products can be burned. These are regulations that we have to follow.”
Hamel says that even though dumps used to remain unlocked and that the pits were allowed to burn but now Alberta Environment has clamped down which forces the town to extinguish the fires.
“Burnable debris can be dumped but not burned,” says Hamel. “Only town employees can do the burning, and only paper, and wood stuff.”
According to Girard the workers burn every Wednesday.
“We can’t put it out with water, the water seeps into the ground and the water would become contaminated,” says Hamel, “so we have to bring in bulldozers to try and level it off and then use Class ‘A’ Foam and cap it with some dirt.” This according to Hamel essentially smothers the flames and costs a lot of money.
“You have to bring in the Cat and pay them $60 or $70 an hour plus you have to pay for the transportation of the Cat. Class ‘A’ Foam costs about $100 a pail and we use four or five pails for a fire,” says Hamel.
“It can cost about $1000 per fire plus that of time missed from work and other repercussions.”
Some of these repercussions include the danger of if there is a real emergency during a pit fire the crew would have to be split into two.
“Instead of having all of our men and equipment saving a house or a business we only have half of the resources,” says Hamel.
Other than the personal hassles in getting time off work to attend the fires there are also risks that the volunteer firefighters face.
“Aerosol cans can hit you in the face, they go off like like little rockets,” says Hamel who also says that a disposed of 20lb propane tank exploding has the same force as 20 sticks of dynamite.
“I think we should be using our volunteers for real emergencies,” says Girard, “not land-fill site fires.”
“My council has decided that if awareness doesn’t work, they will find other options like shutting the dump down and only opening it one day a week instead of two,” says Girard.
Currently the Girouxville land-fill site is opened Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.