What About Chainsaws?

The following information applies to ALL lands, whether public, private, commercial or crown lands.

During periods where the Fire Danger rating is High or Extreme, Bow Horn Bay FD urges extra caution when using spark-producing tools such as chainsaws. Chainsaws can pose a fire-risk in several ways; producing a spark by hitting a rock, friction from hardwood, and by the hot exhaust resting on combustibles like sawdust. The Bow Horn Bay Fire Protection District Bylaw No 1402, gives the Fire Chief powers to control open burning and high risk activities. High Risk activities are defined by wildfire regulations issued under the BC Wildfire Act and be found at;

Restrictions of activities in response to increased fire risk include “Fire Watch,” “Early Shift” or “Cease Activity” as follows:
• After three consecutive days of “Moderate” fire risk, workers must maintain a one-hour Fire Watch with appropriate firefighting tools.
• Once a “High” fire risk begins, a Fire Watch increases to two hours.
• After three days of “High” fire risk, workers must follow Early Shift (cease High-Risk Activities by 1 p.m.).
• Once “Extreme” fire risk begins, workers must follow Early Shift and maintain a Fire Watch.
• After three days of “Extreme” fire risk, workers must Cease High-Risk Activity in forests and grasslands.
A worker conducting Fire Watch must patrol the work site, carry a forest-fire-fighting tool, have the means to report a fire and commence extinguishment immediately upon discovery of fire.

Our recommendation for best practice is to not take the chance and avoid using these types of tools during the high-risk fire season.  The question to ask yourself is, “Do I need to do this now, or can it wait?”

Chainsaw use is permitted during High or Extreme fire-danger periods, if the work is done on a non-combustible landing.  Areas we consider safe include: green grass, gravel areas, roadways, driveways, or other non-combustible surfaces. 

The Bow Horn Bay Fire Chief or his designate may allow commercial operators to carry out necessary work during High or Extreme Fire Danger periods.  The Fire Chief or Deputy Chief will evaluate each job and location, assess the risk factors, and will work with the operator to develop a fire safety plan that will allow operators to continue to work in a fire-safe manner.  Please call the fire hall office (250-757-9433), Fire Chief (250 240 0419), Deputy Chief (250-228-2200). 

The Fire Chief or his designate may, at any time deemed advisable, order one or more high-risk activities as defined in the BC Wildfire Regulation, to be prohibited for a specific period of time.

What if you are concerned about someone using a chainsaw?

• You may hear a chainsaw operating during High or Extreme periods.  If you feel comfortable speaking with the operator, let them know of the fire danger.  Ask them to confirm with the Fire Department if there is any uncertainty about the work site.  If you are unable to confirm the safe operation please call the fire hall office (250-757-9433) or Fire Chief (250 240 0419)),  Deputy Chief (250-228-2200), or if there is immediate danger of fire, call 911.

Working together to make Bow Horn Bay Fire Protection district, “FireSmart”. 

Follow these Chainsaw Fire Safety Tips:
• Maintain your saw.  The exhaust should have a spark arrestor screen.  Ensure the saw has no fuel leaks.  A sharp saw means you will spend less time on one location venting exhaust.

• Be aware of the fire-risk condition.  Signs are posted at all fire halls and ferry terminals.  We also update our website, social media and local news agencies.  Using a chainsaw during periods of “Moderate,” “High” or “Extreme” fire-risk requires extra caution.

• Work on a non-combustible surface like a driveway or a cleared area (referred to as a “Landing”.  Never set a hot saw down on fine fuel combustibles like woods chips or leafy debris (use a stump or bare ground).

• Work in the morning while temperatures are cooler and there is a higher relative humidity to help reduce the risk of ignition.

• Maintain a one-hour fire watch after cutting to make sure you haven’t started a fire.  (This is an industry requirement after three days of “Moderate” fire risk).  Check sawdust for smoldering embers.

• Turn off a saw and wait three minutes before refueling.  Do not smoke when refueling.  Clean up all spilt fuel.  Move three meters away from fuel containers before starting a saw.

• Bring a fire extinguisher and a shovel to extinguish fires.  Bring a phone to report a fire and report promptly if one does start (Call 911)


 Any individual who started a fire due to a high-risk activity regardless of whether it was an industrial operation or member of the public, could be liable to the costs incurred for fire suppression, if they were deemed not to be in compliance with the BC Wildfire Act.

If you have further questions on chainsaw use or other high-risk activities, please contact the Bow Horn Bay VFD office (250 757 9433), Fire Chief (250 240 0419),Deputy Chief (250-228-2200), or if there is immediate danger of fire, call 911.