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Stay smart, stay safe, says fire chief

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With spring here and the weather warming accordingly, Dauphin Fire Chief Cam Abrey wants area residents to stay safe.
While it has been some time since his department has had to respond to a rescue involving thin ice, Abrey said this is the time of year when people need to be most vigilant.
And it is not just around rivers and creeks where care needs to be taken, the fire chief said.
“The ditches at this time of year. When we have runoff from the fields from the yards and everything else, the water in the ditches is running quite hard, as well. So there’s some danger there too,” Abrey said, adding people should also be active in assuring the safety of their pets, as well.
“If you’re out walking through Vermillion Park, make sure that your pets are kept on a leash so that they’re not running after smaller animals, going onto the river.”
If an incident does occur, Abrey said, people should do all that they can to improve their situation, rather than simply waiting for help to arrive.
“Trying to self rescue is part of it for sure.” he said.
And while there are some dangers associated with a wet spring, a dry spring can present some challenges too, when it comes to fire.
“We don’t want to say we want a wet spring, but we definitely want less grass fires than we had last year. We had 37 calls in the month of May,” Abrey said.
“It really taxed the department’s resources.”
Abrey is aware that spring burning is a reality in an agricultural area. He just asks that it be handled properly.
“That people are responsible in how they burn. Watch the wind conditions, make sure that you have your proper fire guards in place and ensure that you’re getting a burning permit from the RM of Dauphin,” Abrey said, addling permits can help cut down on the number of false alarms.
“They are available for free, but it’s more of a tracking process. We know where the fires are going to be and we know the contact information.”
When it comes to in the city and backyard fire pits, Abrey said it is all about the fuel.
“Ensure that you’re only burning dry, seasoned firewood. No garbage, no grass clippings, no yard waste, anything like that. And make sure that you have proper clearances from your buildings.”