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Garofeu

After more than 25 years of absence, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) is happy to announce the great return of a character that captured the imagination of a great many children during the 1980s. Garofeu, the proud little chipmunk, is back on duty at SOPFEU and will be the organization’s spokes-creature with children and families to promote forest fire prevention.

Knowing that young people are a vector for social change, SOPFEU wishes to contribute to training a new generation of responsible citizens about the use of fire. While targeting young people, the organization is also calling on parents to be models for their children. Throughout the 2020 season, a series of 12 vignettes presenting “Garofeu’s tips for the whole family” will be disseminated on social media. In addition, over the coming months, the SOPFEU prevention team will develop learning material for preschool and elementary school children.

GAROFEU’s history

Garofeu made a first public appearance on May 31, 1979, with the Minister of Lands and Forests of the era, Yves Bérubé, on the occasion of a banquet for the 40th anniversary of the Association forestière québécoise. The likable character then became the figurehead for prevention campaigns conducted by Conservation-Québec, an organization of the seven conservation agencies tasked with forest protection before the creation of SOPFEU.

Garofeu is a chipmunk, commonly referred to as an eastern chipmunk. This creature was chosen over all other animals because, of course, it’s adorable, but also because of its forest skills. The reputation of the chipmunk is beyond reproach. It is likeable and farsighted. It is often seen in the forest and has excellent conservation habits.

The name Garofeu was chosen following a competition organized by Conservation-Québec during which more than 10,000 suggestions were received. Young Marc Bérubé, from La Tuque, won the $100 promised by the Ministère des terres et Forêts.

Activity Book

This is Garofeu’s new playbook. Inside, you’ll find plenty of activities designed for 3 to 7 year-olds, and some tips for the whole family, in order to enjoy nature safely.

We invite parents, child care educators and primary school teachers to download and print the booklet for young people.

Download it here

Help Garofeu continue his mission: to help protect forests. Together, we can make a difference!

Garofeu’s activity book is now available to order

Order now

Garofeu’s pro tips for the whole family

Feel free to share GAROFEU’s tips provided below.

Put out your campfire completely

Every year, a number of forest fires are triggered by campfires that haven’t been completely put out.

GAROFEU reminds you of the importance of COMPLETELY PUTTING OUT a campfire before leaving the site. To do so, douse your fire thoroughly while vigorously stirring the embers. Repeat as needed until you can touch the ashes and confirm that they’re cold.

It’s not uncommon for a fire to rise from its ashes if it hasn’t been completely put out. With a bit of wind, embers can re-ignite, even a few hours after your departure. Also, a poorly extinguished fire can scorch underground roots, burn deeper down, and spread a fire a little further away. Don’t play with fire!

According to the Forest Protection Regulation, you must “completely extinguish the fire before leaving the premises.”

To consult the Regulation: https://bit.ly/2Vhorwk

Avoid parking your ATV in the underbrush or on dry grass

If you use an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in the forest, GAROFEU asks you to avoid PARKING YOUR VEHICLE in the underbrush or on dry grass. It’s preferable to park it on dirt, sand, or gravel surfaces.

When organic materials come in contact with hot parts of the engine or tailpipe, they can start a fire by igniting and falling to the ground. When the weather is dry, the fire can spread very quickly to the forest.

Furthermore, GAROFEU recommends that your ATV be kept in good working order and cleaned after each outing. It’s especially important to regularly check the condition of the tailpipe and remove the dry grass and mud adhering to it in order to prevent the organic matter from igniting. It’s also recommended to have a 1 kg ABC fire extinguisher with you at all times.

Use a spark arrestor

You like getting together with friends or family around a fire? GAROFEU recommends that you equip your firepit with a SPARK ARRESTOR that allows for an unobstructed view of the fire but prevents embers from escaping. When the screen door is closed, the spark arrestor also acts as a safety barrier for children and pets.

To be safe, the openings of the spark arrestor must be no bigger than 1cm x 1cm in diameter. Furthermore, your firepit must be placed on a paved surface or an open surface of dirt, sand, or gravel at a safe distance from any buildings, fences, trees, or shrubs.

Another advantage of a firepit with a spark arrestor is that you can enjoy the warmth of a roaring fire even when there’s a ban on open fires since the firepit is not an open fire according to provincial regulations. However, GAROFEU invites you to check with your municipality, as it may have stricter regulations, which will take precedence over provincial legislation.

Refrain from setting off fireworks

Did you know that FIREWORKS can trigger a forest fire?

To use them safely, GAROFEU recommends that you stay away from wooded areas. It’s also important to set off your fireworks on ground cleared of all fuels, under adult supervision. Have water or a fire extinguisher on hand. After the activity, inspect the site to ensure that nothing has been left smouldering.

When the fire danger rating varies from “High” to “Extreme,” GAROFEU recommends that you refrain from setting off fireworks close to the forest. In addition, if a ban on open fires is in effect, fireworks are also prohibited.

Finally, do not forget to check your municipality’s fireworks regulations before planning such an activity.

Never leave a campfire unattended

Each year, numerous forest fires are triggered by campfires left UNATTENDED. GAROFEU reminds you that a campfire or waste burn should never be left without constant adult supervision. It only takes a gust of wind to spread your fire and for it to burn out of control.

According to the Forest Protection Regulation, you must “completely extinguish the fire before leaving the premises.”

By monitoring your fire, you can intervene quickly if need be. In this regard, you should always have water within reach to put out your fire should it begin to spread.

To consult the Regulation: https://bit.ly/2Vhorwk

Hot parts of the ATV must be thoroughly cleaned

GAROFEU reminds you that a forest fire could start as a result of an ATV ride. In fact, organic matter that adheres to HOT ENGINE PARTS dries out on contact with the engine’s heat and can trigger a fire by igniting and falling to the ground. When the weather is dry, the fire can spread to the forest very quickly.

Therefore, you’ll need to keep your off-road vehicle in good working order and to clean it after each outing. It’s especially important to check the condition of your ATV’s tailpipe and to remove dry grass and mud from it.

We also suggest that you carry a 1 kg ABC fire extinguisher with you, check out the fire danger rating, and avoid off-roading in sectors where vegetation is dry.

Avoid off-trail ATV travel

If you use an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in the forest, GAROFEU asks you to TRAVEL ONLY ON MARKED TRAILS when the fire danger rating varies from “High” to “Extreme”.

In fact, dead leaves, mud, or dry grass may adhere to the underside of the ATV. When these clumps of organic matter come in contact with hot parts of the engine or tailpipe, they can trigger a fire by igniting and falling to the ground. When the weather is dry, the fire can spread to the forest very quickly. The risk is reduced if you travel on a dirt, sand, or gravel trail.

You can check the fire danger rating via the SOPFEU’s website or mobile app, or by consulting any one of the 250 signs installed near forests.

Furthermore, GAROFEU recommends that your ATV be kept in good working order and cleaned after each outing. It’s especially important to regularly ensure that the tailpipe is in tip-top condition  and to remove the dry grass and mud adhering to it. It’s also recommended to have a 1 kg ABC fire extinguisher with you at all times.

Make sure your campfire doesn’t exceed 1m x 1m

Be reasonable when making a campfire. It should NOT BE TOO LARGE to avoid any risk of its spreading out of control.

GAROFEU reminds you that a campfire, whether it’s to keep warm, to create atmosphere, or to be used for cooking, should never exceed 1m x 1m.

Before building a campfire, it’s preferable to check the fire danger rating on the SOPFEU’s website or on its mobile app. If the fire danger rating varies from “High” to “Extreme” or if there are winds of more than 20 km/h, it’s better to abstain so as to limit the risk of your fire burning out of control.

A campfire must be built in a well-cleared area and on a surface of sand or gravel with no flammable material such as brush or dead leaves nearby.

Have on hand what’s needed to put out your fire. Never leave it burning without adult supervision. Finally, when you’re finished, you must put it out completely before leaving the site.

Choose the site of your campfire wisely

Choosing WHERE TO BUILD A FIRE is important. When building a campfire or burning waste or residual materials, you should select a site that’s clear and safe.

GAROFEU reminds you that a fire must be built on a surface of sand or gravel with no flammable material nearby.

Before building a campfire, it’s preferable to check the fire danger rating on the SOPFEU’s website or on its mobile app. If the fire danger rating varies from “High” to “Extreme” or if there are winds of more than 20 km/h, it’s better to abstain so as to limit the risk of your fire burning out of control.

Have on hand what’s needed to put out your fire. Never leave it burning without adult supervision. Finally, when you’re finished, you must put it out completely before leaving the site.

According to the Forest Protection Regulation, you must clear the place where you intend to start the fire by removing all humus, dead wood, branches, scrub, and dry leaves from the surface within a radius large enough to prevent the fire from spreading.

To consult the Regulation: https://bit.ly/2Vhorwk

Always have water near your campfire

Every year, numerous forest fires are sparked by UNCONTROLLED FIRES, be it waste burning or campfires.

GAROFEU reminds you of the importance of being well prepared before building a fire. One of the precautions is to have water nearby in order to be able to put out your fire quickly if need be. If you don’t have a garden hose, at least make sure that a bucket of water is at hand.

Before building a campfire, it’s preferable to check the fire danger rating on the SOPFEU’s website or on its mobile app. If the fire danger rating varies from “High” to “Extreme” or if there are winds of more than 20 km/h, it’s better to abstain so as to limit the risk of your fire burning out of control.

According to the Forest Protection Regulation, you must have with you, at sites where you intend to build a fire, the equipment required to prevent it from spiralling out of control and the means to extinguish it.

To consult the Regulation: https://bit.ly/2Vhorwk

Do not throw your cigarette butts on the ground

GAROFEU reminds you that in addition to being very harmful to your health, smoking can hurt the forest as well. Every year, around 80 forest fires are caused by SMOKER’S ARTICLES. Fires starting in dry underbrush and along a road are often caused by a cigarette butt thrown out of a vehicle window.

According to the Forest Protection Regulation, “No person may smoke in or near a forest from 1 April to 15 November while working or travelling, except in a building or a closed vehicle.”

Thus, to avoid any risk, never throw a cigarette butt on the ground. Furthermore, don’t smoke while walking or working in the forest. If you wish to smoke, stop on a clear surface to do so.

To consult the Regulation: https://bit.ly/2Vhorwk

Consult your municipal regulations

GAROFEU reminds you that before building a fire at your home or cabin, it’s important to check the  REGULATIONS OF YOUR MUNICIPALITY. It may have a regulation governing ambient fires, domestic combustion, or fireworks and may require a permit for certain types of fires. Your municipality may even ban open fires on its own initiative if deemed necessary.

Although provincial law applies throughout Quebec, your municipal regulations may be more restrictive. You must comply with them.