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This version was current from October 1, 2015 to February 28, 2019.
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C.C.S.M. c. W128
The Wildfires Act
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(Assented to June 28, 1997)
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
In this Act
"burning permit" means a permit issued under subsection 19(3); (« permis de feu »)
"burning permit area" means an area that is designated as a burning permit area by regulation; (« zone de permis de feu »)
"Crown" means Her Majesty the Queen in right of the province; (« Couronne »)
"Crown land" means land administered under The Crown Lands Act; (« terre domaniale »)
"department" means the department over which the minister presides; (« ministère »)
"director" means the Director of Headquarters, Operations Division for the department; (« directeur »)
"fire" means any type of fire, including a wildfire; (« incendie »)
"fire guardian" means a person appointed as a fire guardian by the minister or by a municipality under this Act; (« garde-feu »)
"industrial operation" means an activity carried on in connection with the development or maintenance of agriculture, natural resources utilization, industry, construction, public works, public utilities or surveys and includes any other activity that may be so specified in the regulations; (« activité industrielle »)
"matter" means matter, material, substance or thing; (« matière »)
"minister" means the member of the Executive Council charged by the Lieutenant Governor in Council with the administration of this Act; (« ministre »)
(a) a municipality as defined by The Municipal Act,
(b) a local government district incorporated or continued under The Local Government Districts Act, or
(c) a city, town or village; (« municipalité »)
(a) a person employed by the department in connection with the administration and enforcement of this Act,
(a.1) a conservation officer appointed under The Conservation Officers Act,
(b) a fire guardian appointed under section 5 or 14,
(c) the Fire Commissioner, the Deputy Fire Commissioner or an Assistant Fire Commissioner for Manitoba,
(d) a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,
(e) a park warden of a national park as defined by the National Parks Act (Canada),
(f) a police officer appointed under federal or provincial legislation, and
(g) a person designated as an officer by the minister or by regulation; (« agent »)
"outdoor fire" means a fire that is started outdoors but does not include a fire that is started in, and remains contained within, a container or fire pit that is approved by an officer; (« feu extérieur »)
"person" means a person, corporation or municipality; (« personne »)
"premises" means a building, trailer, or other structure erected on land; (« lieu »)
"property" means real and personal property; (« bien »)
"railway" means a railway that operates in Manitoba; (« chemin de fer »)
"regulation" means a regulation made under this Act; (« règlement »)
"start" with respect to a fire, means to kindle, light, place, or set out a fire, or cause a fire to be started; (« allumer »)
"temporary fire guardian" means a person under the supervision of, or instructed by, and assisting an officer; (« garde-feu temporaire »)
"travel permit" means a permit issued under subsection 20(4); (« permis de circulation »)
"wildfire" means an outdoor fire that is burning out of control or that an officer believes may burn out of control; (« incendie échappé »)
"wildfire protection operations" means wildfire prevention, detection, control, pre-suppression, suppression, investigation and extinguishment; (« protection contre les incendies échappés »)
"wildfire season" means the period in each year commencing on April 1 and ending on November 15, or any other period of time that may be designated by the minister; (« saison des incendies échappés »)
"work permit" means a permit issued under subsection 23(4). (« permis de travail »)
Subject to section 18, this Act applies to all land within Manitoba.
The department shall administer this Act and the regulations.
The minister may delegate to an officer any power, duty or function conferred on the minister by this Act, other than the power to make regulations.
The minister may appoint fire guardians to carry out the provisions of this Act and the regulations and may cancel an appointment at any time.
The minister may, on behalf of the Government of Manitoba, enter into agreements respecting wildfire protection operations with
(a) the Government of Canada;
(b) the government of a province;
(c) the government of the United States of America or any of its states;
(d) a band as defined by the Indian Act (Canada);
(e) a municipality; or
(f) any other person.
An officer who finds a person violating a provision of this Act or the regulations may arrest the person committing the offence and bring him or her before a court of competent jurisdiction to be dealt with according to law.
For the purpose of wildfire protection operations, an officer or a temporary fire guardian may without a warrant enter on or pass over any land, or enter any premises, vehicle or machinery which is on fire, or which the officer or temporary fire guardian has reasonable grounds to believe is threatened by fire.
For the purpose of wildfire protection operations, an officer or a temporary fire guardian may, without a warrant enter on or pass over any land, or enter a vehicle, or premises other than a private dwelling which the officer or temporary fire guardian has reasonable grounds to believe constitutes a fire hazard.
An officer who finds conditions that in his or her opinion constitute a fire hazard, may issue an order to the owner, occupant, lessee or person in charge of the land, premises, vehicle or machinery on which the fire hazard exists, to reduce or remove the hazard at his or her own expense within a fixed time and in a manner prescribed by the officer.
An officer who finds that an order made under subsection (4) has not been complied with, may enter on the land, premises, vehicle or machinery with any equipment and persons that the officer considers necessary, and may reduce or remove the fire hazard.
An officer who believes on reasonable grounds that
(a) an offence against this Act or the regulations has occurred or is occurring; and
(b) there exists on any land, premises, vehicle or machinery any matter that will afford evidence of the offence;
may, with a warrant issued under subsection (7), enter, and search the land, premises, vehicle or machinery and seize the matter.
A justice who is satisfied by information upon oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that in any place referred to in subsection (6) there exists matter that will afford evidence of an offence, may issue a warrant authorizing an officer and any other person named in the warrant to enter the place, search for the matter and seize it.
Notwithstanding subsection (6), an officer may exercise the power of search and seizure without a warrant if the conditions for obtaining a warrant exist but it is not practicable in the circumstances to obtain one, in which case the matter seized shall be brought before, or reported to a justice who will deal with it according to law.
All matter seized under this section may be detained for a period of three months after the date of seizure, unless proceedings under this Act are taken, in which case the matter may be further detained until the proceedings are concluded.
An officer may signal or request a person driving a vehicle or machinery to stop, and the person shall immediately bring the vehicle or machinery to a stop and remained stopped as long as the officer considers necessary in order to inspect the vehicle or machinery, to ensure the safety of occupants, or to facilitate wildfire protection operations.
An officer may order that a highway or road be closed at any time in order to protect life or property or to facilitate wildfire protection operations.
An officer may order any able-bodied adult located in the vicinity of a wildfire to assist in wildfire protection operations when sufficient numbers of firefighters or volunteers are not immediately available.
An officer may order any person who owns, operates or has control of equipment to release it to an officer for the purpose of wildfire protection operations.
An officer may start a fire on any land for the purpose of
(a) protecting life, land and property;
(b) reducing fire hazards;
(c) managing wildlife habitat; or
(d) for any purpose that relates to management of Crown land.
An officer may order a person to extinguish a fire, cause a fire to be extinguished, or undertake wildfire protection operations at any time on any land in Manitoba.
An officer may place a person who is not an officer in charge of a wildfire protection operation.
An officer may appoint a person to act as a temporary fire guardian to assist in wildfire protection operations.
A person shall take all reasonable steps to prevent a fire from
(a) burning out of control; or
(b) spreading from land owned or occupied by that person.
The owner, occupant or lessee of land, or person in charge of an industrial operation on any land on which a wildfire is burning shall
(a) attempt to extinguish the wildfire;
(b) comply with a direction or order of an officer;
(c) at his or her own expense, place all equipment, services and labour in his or her control at the disposal of an officer for the purpose of wildfire protection operations; and
(d) cease an ongoing industrial operation until advised by an officer that it is safe to resume it.
A person who discovers a wildfire shall immediately ensure that the nearest officer is made aware of the wildfire, whether or not it is extinguished.
On request by an officer, a person shall supply to the officer all information known to the person which may assist the officer in wildfire protection operations.
No person shall
(a) start a fire that is likely to burn out of control, burns out of control, or endangers life, land or property;
(b) obstruct an officer, a temporary fire guardian or a person in charge of a wildfire protection operation in the performance of his or her duties;
(c) fail to follow the direction or order of an officer or person in charge of wildfire protection operations with respect to wildfire protection operations; or
(d) impede wildfire protection operations.
No person shall cause a fire to be started in order to guard property, clear land, or burn debris, crops or stubble, unless the land on which the fire is started is completely surrounded by a strip of land not less than six metres wide, and
(a) the strip is free of inflammable material; or
(b) all inflammable material on the strip is covered by snow or water.
No person shall on any land
(a) start a fire
(i) without taking sufficient precautions to ensure that the fire can be kept under control, or
(ii) when weather conditions are conducive to a fire burning out of control;
(b) fail to take reasonable steps to prevent a fire from spreading;
(c) place any burning or smouldering matter in a place where it may cause a fire that may spread;
(d) conduct an activity that may cause a fire to spread; or
(e) leave the place where he or she has caused a fire to be started without ensuring that the fire is out.
Unless permitted to do so by an officer, no person shall remove or interfere with equipment, a structure, sign or other thing intended to be used for wildfire protection operations.
MUNICIPAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Subject to subsection (2), section 15, or an agreement made under section 6, a municipality is responsible for wildfire protection operations within its boundaries.
A municipality shall obey all orders of an officer regarding wildfire protection operations within its boundaries.
A municipality may appoint and remunerate fire guardians to carry out its wildfire protection responsibilities under this Act, the regulations or a municipal by-law, and may cancel an appointment at any time.
Where municipal wildfire protection operations are in the opinion of an officer not adequate, the officer may do whatever is necessary to control and extinguish a wildfire.
The Crown is not obliged to reimburse a municipality for costs and expenses incurred in wildfire protection operations, but it may reimburse a municipality for costs or expenses incurred in wildfire protection operations made necessary by a wildfire that started on unoccupied Crown land.
Subject to subsection (2), nothing in this Act imposes an obligation on a municipality to pay compensation for loss or damage as a result of wildfire protection operations.
A municipality is liable to the Crown for costs and expenses in an amount the minister considers reasonable if the costs and expenses were incurred in wildfire protection operations as a result of an officer exercising his or her powers under section 15, or as a result of the municipality's request for assistance.
BURNING PERMITS AND OUTDOOR FIRES
Subject to subsection (2), this Part does not apply to cities, towns, villages or national parks.
This Part does apply to non urban areas of extended towns as described by regulation made under clause 38(a).
Subject to subsection (5), no person shall start an outdoor fire in a burning permit area during the wildfire season, except under the authority of a burning permit.
Land may be designated by regulation as a burning permit area and is sufficiently described if its boundaries are shown or its area is indicated on a map adopted or incorporated by reference in the regulation.
An officer may
(a) issue or refuse to issue a burning permit to an applicant;
(b) issue a burning permit subject to conditions which bind the permittee; or
(c) cancel or suspend a burning permit at any time.
Every person who starts a fire under authority of a permit shall
(a) keep the permit or a copy of it at the site of the fire;
(b) show the permit to an officer on request;
(c) keep the fire under control;
(d) ensure that at the site of the fire there are sufficient responsible persons and equipment to extinguish it if necessary; and
(e) extinguish all fires authorized by the permit on the cancellation, suspension or expiry of the permit.
In an emergency, a person may, without a burning permit, start an outdoor fire for the purpose of cooking, keeping warm, or signalling for help.
In order to protect land, property or public safety during the wildfire season, the minister may order an area to be closed to entry or travel for a specified period of time, and shall make reasonable efforts to have the public notified immediately of the order.
Subject to subsection (3), no person shall enter an area designated in an area closure order during the period specified in the order unless he or she has in his or her possession a travel permit issued under this section.
Except where ordered by an officer, a travel permit is not needed
(a) for travel by a resident of a closed area who is travelling through a closed area to and from his or her home by the most direct route;
(b) for travel on a provincial trunk highway or on a provincial road, within the meaning of The Highways and Transportation Act; or
(c) by persons engaged in wildfire protection operations on behalf of the department or a municipality.
An officer may
(a) issue or refuse to issue a travel permit to an applicant;
(b) issue a travel permit subject to conditions which bind the permittee; or
(c) cancel or suspend a travel permit at any time.
When an aircraft conducting water bombing operations is operating on a lake, no person shall approach, obstruct or interfere with the aircraft.
Subject to The Emergency Measures Act, where in the opinion of the minister a wildfire emergency exists, he or she may declare an area to be a wildfire emergency area and order that persons be evacuated from the area or protected in any other way.
Subject to subsection (2), no person shall carry on the following work within a burning permit area except under the authority of a work permit identifying the land covered by the permit and describing the permitted work:
(a) an industrial operation;
(b) construction of a dam, bridge, or camp;
(c) construction or operation of a mill that produces timber products;
(d) an operation that is likely to cause the accumulation of slash or debris;
(e) any other work prescribed by regulation.
A work permit is not required for
(a) the clearing of land for agricultural purposes; or
(b) the building of a cottage in a provincial park.
Unless otherwise stated on the permit, a work permit expires on March 31 following the date of its issue.
An officer may
(a) issue or refuse to issue a work permit to an applicant;
(b) issue a work permit subject to conditions which bind the permittee; or
(c) cancel or suspend a work permit at any time.
The permittee shall keep the work permit or a copy of it on the work permit area and produce it to an officer when requested.
Where an officer finds a person carrying on work described in subsection 23(1) without a work permit, the officer may order the person to cease work until a work permit is obtained.
The provisions of any order, rule or direction of the Canadian Transport Agency respecting the prevention and control of fires applies to any railway in Manitoba.
Where a fire originates within 100 metres of the centre line of a railway track, the railway
(a) is presumed to have caused the fire unless satisfactory proof to the contrary is provided to the department;
(b) shall immediately
(i) attempt to extinguish the fire, and
(ii) report the fire to an officer; and
(c) is liable for all costs and expenses of extinguishing the fire incurred by the Crown or a municipality that constitute a debt due to the Crown or municipality.
A railway shall comply with all instructions given by an officer regarding wildfire protection operations.
Within a burning permit area during the wildfire season, a railway may not start a fire on its right-of-way except under the authority of a burning permit.
Employees of a railway may enter upon land adjoining the railway right-of-way for the purpose of extinguishing a fire.
MACHINERY, EQUIPMENT AND INDUSTRIAL OPERATIONS
Within a burning permit area during the wildfire season, no person shall use or operate a machine, vehicle, boiler, smoke-stack, chimney, incinerator or other equipment without an effective means of preventing the escape of fire, sparks, or other emissions capable of resulting in fire.
For the purpose of fire prevention, an officer may, at any reasonable time and where reasonably required to determine whether equipment constitutes a fire hazard
(a) inspect equipment to determine whether it constitutes a fire hazard; and
(b) order the owner or operator of the equipment to cease its operation if it poses a fire hazard.
Unless the written approval of an officer is obtained, no person shall operate equipment which is the subject of an order under subsection (2).
At the request of an officer, a person carrying on or having charge of an industrial operation within a burning permit area shall submit a fire control plan to an officer for approval.
An officer may suspend the operations of a person described in subsection (1) until an acceptable fire control plan has been submitted and approved.
Nothing in this Act imposes an obligation on the Crown
(a) to carry out wildfire protection operations on any land; or
(b) to pay compensation for loss or damage incurred by any party as a result of wildfire protection operations.
Nothing in this Act affects the right of a person to bring and maintain a civil action for damages occasioned by a wildfire.
Where the Crown or a municipality incurs costs, expenses, loss or damage as a result of
(a) wildfire protection operations;
(b) enforcing an officer's order which was not obeyed; or
(c) fire loss;
the Crown or the municipality is entitled to be reimbursed by the person who caused the Crown or the municipality to incur costs, expenses, loss or damage, and the amount of costs, expenses, loss or damage is a debt due and owing to the Crown or the municipality.
In an action by the Crown or a municipality under subsection (1), a copy of an entry in a book or record kept by the Crown or the municipality, or a copy of an itemized statement of costs and expenses prepared by the Crown or the municipality and certified by the minister or the mayor or reeve of the municipality, shall be admitted in the absence of evidence to the contrary, as proof of the entry or statement and of the matters, transactions and accounts recorded in it.
No person shall make a false statement to an officer or provide a false statement in an application, permit or other document required under this Act or the regulations, and a permit issued as a result of a false statement is not valid.
Where an employee suffers loss or damage to personal property as a result of a wildfire while on duty in wildfire protection operations, the minister may compensate that person for the loss or damage.
The minister may compensate an owner of equipment for its use under subsection 7(9), or for damage to the equipment as a result of its use, in an amount that the minister considers reasonable.
A person may appeal to the minister from the following decisions of an officer, and the minister's decision is final:
(a) the refusal to issue a permit;
(b) the conditions of a permit;
(c) the cancellation or suspension of a permit.
A person is guilty of an offence who
(a) starts an outdoor fire in a burning permit area during a wildfire season except under the authority of a burning permit;
(b) fails to comply with an instruction or order given by an officer;
(c) fails to comply with a duty under Part 4;
(d) does anything that is prohibited under Part 5;
(e) starts a fire that burns out of control or leaves a fire in such a condition that it may burn out of control;
(f) is a permittee, and fails to execute the duties of a permittee or comply with the conditions of a permit issued to him or her under this Act;
(g) fails to attempt to extinguish an outdoor fire or fails to report it to an officer as required by section 10 or subsection 26(2);
(h) travels in an area that is closed under subsection 20(1) except under the authority of a travel permit;
(i) approaches, interferes or obstructs an aircraft conducting water bombing operations;
(j) carries on work described in subsection 23(1) except under the authority of a work permit, or carries on work after a permit is suspended or cancelled;
(k) is engaged in permitted work under the authority of a work permit issued under subsection 23(4) and causes a wildfire to be started;
(l) starts a fire on a railway right of way within a burning permit area during a wildfire season without obtaining a burning permit;
(m) operates equipment described in subsection 27(1) without an effective means of preventing the escape of fire, sparks, or other emissions capable of resulting in fire;
(n) continues to operate equipment which is the subject of an order under subsection 27(2);
(o) carries on an industrial operation which has been suspended by an officer under subsection 28(2); or
(p) contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of this Act or the regulations.
A person, who carries on an operation for which a burning permit or a work permit is required without a permit is guilty of a separate offence for each day the operation is continued.
Every person is a party to, and guilty of an offence under this Act or the regulations who
(a) actually commits it;
(b) does or omits an act for the purpose of aiding any person to commit an offence;
(c) abets any person in commission of the offence; or
(d) counsels or procures any person to commit the offence.
A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction,
(a) if an individual, to a fine of not more than $10,000., or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both; and
(b) if a corporation, to a fine of not more than $50,000.
Where a person is convicted of an offence under this Act, the court may, in addition to imposing a fine or imprisonment, order the convicted person to reimburse the Crown or a municipality for costs incurred by the Crown or municipality in wildfire protection operations that were undertaken as a result of the person's acts or omissions that resulted in the conviction.
In a prosecution under this Act or the regulations for which proof is required respecting
(a) the issue or cancellation of a permit;
(b) whether or not a person is the holder of or is entitled to hold a permit;
(c) the appointment of an officer; or
(d) the service of a document, order, or notice;
a certificate signed by the minister is admissible in the absence of evidence to the contrary, as proof of the facts stated in the certificate and the authority of the minister without proof of the appointment or signature of the minister.
In a proceeding under this Act or the regulations, a certificate signed
(a) by a person in charge of a laboratory or meteorology station operated or maintained by the government of Manitoba or by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; or
(b) by a person designated by the minister to perform the examination;
stating that the person has examined the matter and stating the results of the examination is admissible in evidence without proof of the signature, official character or qualifications of the person appearing to have signed the certificate and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, is proof of the statements contained in the certificate.
The minister may designate a person whom the minister considers qualified to conduct examinations for the purpose of subsection (2).
A certificate under subsection (2) shall not be received in evidence unless the party intending to produce it has given to the accused reasonable notice of the intention together with a copy of the certificate.
A certificate under subsection (2) may be served on the accused by registered mail sent to the address given by the accused to the officer when the accused was charged.
The fact that a person charged in an information laid under this Act has the same name as the person referred to in the certificate of the minister as being the holder of a permit, is in absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the person so charged is the holder.
An information for an offence under this Act or the regulations may be laid at any time within two years after the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed; but an information for failure to make a report under this Act or the regulations or for making a false statement on any application or on a report may be laid at any time after the offence is alleged to have been committed.
The description of an offence in the words of this Act, the regulations or in any similar words is sufficient for the purposes of an information laid for an offence under this Act or the regulations.
A conviction or order made in any matter arising under this Act or the regulations, either originally or on appeal, shall not be quashed for any defect in form.
The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations
(a) prescribing the fee payable for any permit issued under this Act;
(b) prescribing fees payable for wildfire protection operation services provided by the Crown;
(c) respecting any other matter necessary or advisable to carry out the intent and purpose of this Act.
The minister may make regulations
(a) designating any part of Manitoba as a burning permit area and prescribing conditions applicable to it;
(b) respecting the issue and use of permits;
(c) respecting wildfire protection operations;
(d) governing the disposal of slash, debris and waste materials;
(e) respecting rates of payment for persons conscripted or equipment commandeered for wildfire protection operations;
(f) respecting rates of payment for persons, equipment or services hired temporarily for wildfire protection operations;
(g) respecting amounts and types of fire fighting equipment required by timber, forest, mining, drilling or other industrial operations operating in or within one kilometre of a burning permit area;
(h) respecting the manner of reducing fire hazards;
(i) respecting precautions to be taken to prevent and suppress fires in a burning permit area;
(j) designating an activity or operation as an industrial operation;
(k) defining, enlarging or restricting the meaning of any word used in this Act, but not defined in this Act;
(l) designating officers under the Act;
(m) respecting any other matter necessary or advisable to carry out the intent and purpose of this Act.
NOTE: These sections contained consequential amendments to other Acts, which amendments are now included in those Acts.
This Act may be cited as The Wildfires Act and referred to as chapter W128 of the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba.
This Act comes into force on a day fixed by proclamation.
NOTE: S.M. 1997, c. 36 came into force by proclamation on January 1, 1998.
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