Opinion

EDITORIAL: Use your head, butt it out

Firefighters appreciate the opportunity to practise their craft.

But on the West Shore, like anywhere else, most would ideally rather do so in controlled situations than fight uncontrolled blazes on public or private land.

Langford firefighters were kept busy this past week dousing flames in a handful of fires, most of which were determined to have been caused by human carelessness.

Fire inspector Chris Aubrey pointed the finger of blame toward careless smokers this week, after fire singed a large patch of dry grass across from the West Shore Town Centre on Jenkins Road near Belmont secondary.

As with a fire that burned Monday in the brush behind homes on Crystalview Drive near Atkins Road, firefighters determined it was most likely the result of careless use of fire accelerants.

On average, about 40 per cent of forest fires in B.C. are started by humans. This year, about 60 per cent have been, according to figures from the B.C. wildfire management branch.

Finding those directly responsible for starting specific fires can be difficult, especially if it takes a little time to ignite and spread. And for certain, there are various actions that lead to fire – firefighters trooped through Goldstream Park last Saturday to find and douse an unattended campfire before it spread.

That said, a good place to start is by getting tough on ignorant smokers.

The message to “think before you flick” can’t be communicated strongly enough to those who continue to throw their still-smouldering butts wherever they please.

Smoking in your car? Last time we checked, every vehicle comes with an ashtray with a butt-snuffer.

Walking along a sidewalk somewhere? If you can’t find a public ashtray, stomp on it on the concrete and make sure it’s out.

Is singling out smokers during fire season like picking low-hanging fruit? Perhaps.

But unlike railing on them simply for mindless littering, it’s a justifiable reason to call for more appropriate behaviour.

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