A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

06 August 2009

Law With Tongues of Flame ... But No Teeth

As I sit here with the smoke of a local forest fire in my nostrils, I notice this from CTV:
Despite B.C. fire turmoil, people still taking risks

Updated Thu. Aug. 6 2009 1:51 PM ET

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER -- Despite international attention to B.C.'s burning forests, some people are still lighting camp fires and discarding cigarettes in the woods.

Forests Minister Pat Bell had first-hand experience last weekend when he had to tell some Shuswap campers to put out a campfire they were burning in the woods.

Bell says if he had a ticket book, not only would the group have received a $345 fine, but an administrative penalty as well.

The minister says there is zero tolerance for fire in the woods and already more than 50 tickets have been issued to people breaking the rules.

Bell says fire activity in the province is at the highest level seen in his lifetime, with more than 2,300 started this season, 800 more than at the same time in the horrible fire season of 2003.

About 400 aircraft and 4,000 people are working on the fires which have cost the government more than double the original budget at $135 million.
Oooooh a $345 fine! I'm friggin' trembling.
Let's compare that with the damage from forest fires in BC this summer: Roughly $200 million in insurance claims alone, to say nothing of the cost of fighting the fires.

Wow--$345 in return for possibly contributing to millions in annual damages. Who the hell are we kidding?

Let's see what Australia does, shall we?

Looks like, depending on how you interpret it, you could go to jail for up to fourteen years in some states. Good damn idea! Here's New South Wales' rules for lighting fires under a ban:
Penalty for offences

For lighting or causing a fire during a Total Fire Ban
Up to $5,000 fine and / or up to 5 years in jail
Higher penalties can apply in certain circumstances.
Now there's a fine fine!

Makes $345 look pretty arbitrary and weak, doesn't it? Why couldn't it have been $567? Or 8,910? Or 212,223?

Personally, I want ramming a car off the road to be covered under self-defence when the idiot in said car is seen to have jettisoned a ciggie butt. And although I'm a big fan of gun control, I feel that shooting someone who ditches a butt improperly in a forest fire zone should be reduced to a misdemeanor. Call it "unsafe discharge of a firearm" or something.

I'm really a big law-and-order guy. Ask me about my plan for traffic control through random sniping sometime.

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At 3:32 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, should deaths be caused by a fire, the arsonist is charged with murder! Here in O we learn about fire very young.

At 3:01 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must agree with Archie. Idiots who set forest fires that claim lives should be charged with murder. How about charging them with "crimes against property", and give them jail time and restitution. Although I also abhor guns, firing squads are too good for some folk.

At 11:03 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Is that for all fires? Or only arson? Or is there a legal distinction?

We had a guy a while ago in Barriere; After the fire--one of the worst in BC history--The man was charged and tried. And his neighbours all essentially said and that he should walk free because he was a good guy who screwed up.

He was fined $3,000 for starting a fire that cost $30 million to extinguish. Not to mention the insurance costs for homes, and the destruction of the area's main employer.

I know jail time and bigger fines wouldn't help correct anything. I'm sure he feels as dumb as he ever will. And I can't help but admire the "forgiving" spirit ... But also can't help feeling that their good sense is lacking.

If I were the next arsonist, I'd make damn sure to run and warn someone as soon as I knew the fire was out of control. Then when the truth came out, I'd point to the Mike Barre case.

That all said, I believe that had anyone actually died, he would have had to face at least a charge of negligence causing death. Which would be right and proper.

The problem is that it's pure stupidity. Everyone who starts forest fires knows better. Everyone.


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