Fire chief offers some safety tips for fire season

By Meg Olson

With the Point getting busier with summer visitors, fire chief Christopher Carleton has some tips to keep everyone safe, and some new equipment to deploy.

“Know your location if you need to call 911,” Carleton said. With most people using cellular telephones if they need emergency services there is a possibility they will connect with a Canadian tower, and may need to ensure the dispatcher knows they are in Point Roberts. “Even a U.S. telephone might be roaming so it’s important to make sure they are talking to the 911 center in Bellingham,” Carleton said. “Tell the dispatcher you are in Point Roberts and know what your address is.”

Summer weather also means the fire danger is higher, so Carleton is reminding anyone burning outdoors to have the proper permit and safety equipment in place.

“All forecasts are projecting a very dry summer so be extra vigilant with any outdoor burning,” he said.

All fires require a permit. You can obtain a seven-day residential burn permit for $5, a one year recreational permit for $20 or a 24-hour land clearing permit for $50 at the Benson Road fire station or by phoning 360/945-3473 to arrange a time to issue the permit.

Areas around a fire need to be cleared of flammable debris; only natural vegetation can be burned and a charged hose or 5-gallon bucket and a shovel must be on hand. For more information about fire safety, permits and burn bans visit the fire department website at

Carleton said he was considering coordinating Point Roberts burn bans with the Corporation of Delta as well as the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s office, given the similarity of conditions in the two communities.

This season Point Roberts firefighters have a new tool to help them locate the source of a fire or citizens in need of help faster. The department has acquired six cell-phone sized personal thermal imaging cameras, at a cost of approximately $600 each, that firefighters can carry on scene. With them, a firefighter can detect a person lying on the ground in the dark, or see the hot point of a fire through a wall or heavy smoke.

“I believe we’re the first department in Whatcom County to have them,” Carleton said. While the department has thermal imaging cameras on each engine the handheld devices “give every firefighter the ability to use the images and that gives us a real edge,” Carleton said, especially if there is a call with limited responders.

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