|Volume 1 - Resource Management
Chapter 9 - Fire and Aviation Management
Policy 9.6 - Enforcement of Wildfire Act Legislation
Effective Date: 01-May-2009
Print version of the
The Wildfire Act and Regulation takes a results based approach to wildfire management. Legislation authorizes government officials to take compliance and/or enforcement action when an operation is conducted and/or when wildfires occur in contravention of the legislation.
The Ministry Service Plan and Wildfire Management Branch Strategic Plan empower Wildfire Management staff to protect natural resource inventories, investments, lives and government assets by minimizing losses to wildfire. The Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) program has the mandate to enforce legislation to minimize fire, pests, and unauthorized activities that threaten the Province's forest, range and revenue resources. C&E applies quality assurance procedures to verify compliance with statutory obligations. Periodic, independent audits by the Forest Practices Board under S. 68 of the Wildfire Act monitor the effectiveness of our legislation, compliance and the appropriateness of government enforcement.
Wildfire causes fall into two primary categories - natural (primarily lightning) and person caused. The Wildfire Management Branch will complete a fire origin and cause investigation for each wildfire its staff responds to. It is the responsibility of the Incident Commander, with the support of the Regional Wildfire Coordination Officer, to ensure this investigation is initiated.
When this investigation determines that a contravention of the legislation may have occurred, an overall investigation of alleged non-compliance will be initiated. The lead investigator for wildfire non-compliance investigations on Crown or private land will be identified by the Fire Centre Compliance Leader following the C&E/Wildfire Management Roles and Responsibilities Matrix.
In order to fulfil its statutory obligations MFR should investigate all wildfires. In the past, Wildfire Management focused more upon cost recovery than non-compliance issues. This policy will provide responsibility and direction to Wildfire Management Branch staff for conducting investigations and undertaking enforcement actions. Policy 9.1, Wildfire Control Responsibilities & Costs, provides direction on when to pursue an administrative penalty and when to recover costs.
Role of Compliance and Enforcement Program Staff
C&E enforces legislation to protect resources and reduce losses of Crown assets and revenue. There is a shared responsibility between C&E and Wildfire Management to investigate losses from wildfire. Wildfire Management will continue to receive support from C&E to develop inspection and enforcement provisions of the Wildfire Act, and to develop procedures for effective program delivery.
The C&E/Wildfire Management Roles and Responsibilities Matrix will guide wildfire non-compliance investigations. Wildfire Management Fire Centre Compliance Leaders will work cooperatively with C&E Compliance Leaders to ensure effective delivery of our legislative mandate.
C&E, through quality assurance, will monitor appropriateness of wildfire investigations. Each Fire Centre will be subject to periodic quality assurance reviews. Both programs are committed to working together and will utilize existing resources whenever possible.
Role of Wildfire Management Program Staff
Wildfire Management Branch administers wildfires on Crown or private lands outside of local government jurisdiction. The Wildfire Act and Regulation allows for a person to safely use open fire and to safely conduct industrial operations including high risk activities providing the person does not start a wildfire. Should a wildfire occur, Wildfire Management will initiate an investigation.
Wildfire Management Branch has developed several innovative cost sharing arrangements to support the mandate of the program. Legislation and new funding mechanisms have increased the responsibility to investigate issues of non-compliance caused by wildfire. Both legal and contractual obligations have direct bearing on the ability to recover costs or to impose penalties for non-compliance.
This policy is supported by the Wildfire Management Branch Standard Operating Guideline: Enforcement of Wildfire Act Legislation which details specific responsibilities by position within the Wildfire Management Program. This policy will support both the Compliance & Enforcement and Wildfire Management Branch core businesses.