Fire departments in the Comox Valley are rolling out fire restrictions.

Open fires will be banned and fire permits will no longer be issued, with the exception of backyard fires and campfires in specific fire protection areas.

No open burning will be allowed in the Courtenay, Merville, Tsolum-Farnham, or Comox fire protection areas. This is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both recreational backyard fires and campfires will be allowed in the Cumberland, Oyster River, Fanny Bay, Ships Point, and Hornby Island fire protection areas.

Only campfires will be allowed in the Union Bay and Denman Island fire protection areas.

Emergency Operations Center spokesperson Jesse Ketler says banning open fires in the valley during the COVID-19 pandemic has many benefits.

“One of the reasons our fire departments have taken this coordinated approach is to support our region’s air quality. As a community, it’s also vital that we support our first responders. Banning open burning will limit the need for site visits and inspections, and reduce the potential for wildfires. Let’s protect our firefighters so they in turn can help us when we truly need it. I also want to reinforce the need for everyone to stay home, and limit essential trips to your own neighbourhoods as much as possible.”

The first restrictions come into effect in one week, starting April 1st.