AFCA calls for unified strategy on wildfire prevention and response
By CFF StaffHeadlines News fire chiefs wildfires
Feb. 5, 2024, Alberta – The Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) is calling on the province to disclose its wildfire preparedness strategy.
In an open letter to the province, the association said there is a growing concern among fire chiefs across the province regarding the lack of communication of what the government’s plan will be for the upcoming wildfire season.
There is also worry about the allocation of funds compared to previous years and what the plan is for recruitment and deployment of firefighters and equipment.
“Municipal fire chiefs agree that a repeat of the approach to the 2023 fire season cannot occur,” AFCA president Fire Chief Randy Schroeder said. “Fire Chiefs are looking for assurance of an appropriate amount of funding, planning, and coordination occurring between all affected ministries responsible in keeping Albertans safe. This requires strategic coordination, proper planning, and communication, along with appropriate funding levels to support municipalities in community protection.”
In 2023, Alberta experienced an unprecedented wildfire season, with more than 2.5 million hectares of land burned. Combatting last year’s season brought forth considerable challenges, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and proactive approach to wildfire management.
With the current dry winter Alberta is experiencing, the association highlighted the potential for a similar season to occur this year. Schroeder said all data is pointing to a severe fire risk in 2024 in the province.
The letter noted that reliance on municipalities to financially backstop wildland fire response is not sustainable. With or without federal funding, the AFCA is concerned about the allocation of additional resources towards wildfire management. The association also emphasized the urgency of addressing these concerns before the onset of the wildfire season in March.
“This province needs to get serious with FireSmart. I am calling on our premier to coordinate her ministers in this immediate effort and direct them to work with stakeholders collaboratively for an effective and appropriate long-term plan,” Schroeder said.
The AFCA has met with key ministries to present specific asks including additional resources, increased training capacity, equipment, aerials and a request for the establishment of a provincial fire services advisory committee to assist in developing a dedicated provincial strategy to better manage and mitigate the risks associated with wildfire seasons.
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