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Burn pits frustrate fire chief

A frustrated fire chief has told Langley Township council he can’t stop the sale of burn pits in Langley, even though they are against the law.

Stephen Gamble was responding to questions from council about proposed new fire regulations at the Monday meeting.

The portable metal fireplaces used for outdoor open wood fires are illegal, but they are still on sale in many Langley stores, including several large chain outlets.

When the fire department raises the issue with stores, Gamble says they are told the burn pits are being bought for use outside the Lower Mainland in areas where they are still legal.

“The retailers just won’t pull them out of the store,” Gamble said.

“I guess they just sell too many.”

Gamble would like to see the stores at least tell buyers the wood-fuelled burning pits are not allowed in Langley, where the fine for using one is $200.

Gamble added a commonly-held belief that the pits are allowed for cooking is a myth, as far as Langley regulations are concerned.

Gamble said that loophole did exist in another community where he used to work.

“We’d show up and they’d wave sticks with [uncooked] wieners.”

Only propane, natural gas and charcoal barbecues are allowed in Township backyards, he said.

The Township has a zero-tolerance policy on fire pits, meaning an offender will be fined on their first offence.

When Councillor Michelle Sparrow suggested a warning for a first offender would be “better from a P.R. perspective” than a fine, Gamble said the zero-tolerance policy was a response to past incidents where offenders would rack up multiple warnings.

The updated fire bylaws will hike fines for a number of offences, raising the price of failing to post a “no smoking” sign when required from $75 to $100, increasing the fine for failing to install smoke detectors from $75 to $200 and hiking the penalty for setting off fireworks without proper permits from $200 to $500.

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