Alberta Wildfire is hiring 200 additional firefighters, invoking a fire ban, implementing off-highway vehicle restrictions, increasing fine violations, and funding $20 million more in community FireSmart initiatives, all to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season during COVID-19.
Alberta Parks is also instituting a fire ban in all provincial parks and protected areas.
Alberta Wildfire said these early preparedness measures will ensure the province can effectively focus resources where they are needed most in the event of multiple emergencies happening at the same time.
Typically, the wildfire hazard is highest in Alberta in late April through May, when trees and shrubs have extremely low moisture content after the snow has melted.
More than a million acres burned last year and 71 per cent of wildfires were human-caused and entirely preventable. With provincial resources currently stretched due to COVID-19, these preventative measures will better equip Alberta’s response to spring wildfires this year.
Increased firefighting resources
An additional $5 million investment is being made to hire and train 200 firefighters to assist with provincial wildfire suppression this season.
More than 800 seasonal firefighters will join 370 year-round staff at Alberta Wildfire. These resources are hired at one of the 10 Forest Areas, and are moved throughout the Forest Protection Area as required.
Conversely, the five federal United States agencies with wildfire responsibilities have not announced any major new initiatives that would significantly increase the number of firefighting or fire prevention resources.