Under Direct Fire Fighting, the ministry endeavors to minimize the damage from wildfires on forest and range lands, and in the urban/wildland-interface zone. The Fire Preparedness sub-program supplies initial attack crews (e.g., provincial rapattack, regional helitack and district firetack), unit crews, air tankers and helicopters.
Direct Fire Fighting
Forest Service staff under this program work to protect the forest and range resources, and to protect life, property and other natural resource values from damage by wildfire. Their goals include limiting the area burned to 35,000 hectares and the amount of timber lost to 1.4 million cubic metres annually. The sub-program expects to maintain these goals in spite of an increasing number of fires.
The Direct Fire Fighting sub-vote funds direct fireline expenditures, including fire fighters’ wages, equipment rentals, aircraft hiring, suppression supplies, standby, overtime and site rehabilitation.
The 1993/94 fires burned 4,709 hectares, well below the 54,689-hectare 10-year average. (Table E-3) The volume of timber lost was slightly more than one million cubic metres. (Table E-4)
The season’s fire fighting efforts cost $25.2 million. (Table H-1)
The 1993/94 fire season in brief
The quieter fire season allowed the Forest Service to assist other jurisdictions with their fire fighting efforts as part of the Canadian Mutual Resource Sharing Agreement through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg. Fire fighters and equipment were sent to the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Saskatchewan.
On a national-comparison basis, British Columbia had 25 per cent of Canada’s total wildfires, but lost only 2 per cent of the area and spent only 18 per cent of the nation’s fire fighting funds.
The main goals of the sub-program staff are to maintain the ministry’s fire fighting resources in a state of readiness. This includes training fire fighters, refurbishing equipment, making aircraft available and developing and maintaining computer systems.
The sub-program has been designed to:
Fire management activities range from wildfire prevention to smoke management, to the use of prescribed fire in ecosystem management. Forest, range and wildlife managers acknowledge that fire has a place in ecosystem management, and fire is used as a land and resource management tool. Prescribed fire is used to:
The first class of Forest Service Native Fire Prevention Technicians graduated in May, following an intensive 16-week training program. The training at the First Nations Tribal Justice Institute in Mission involved an orientation to the Forest Service, fire behavior and fire weather, forest fire prevention regulations and enforcement, communication skills, safe driving, first aid, wilderness survival, computers, the Forest Act, fire planning and management, and wildland/urban-interface issues. Twelve of the technicians were placed in Forest Service district offices to:
The fire management section provides organizational support for fire management, wildfire prevention, wildfire preparedness and wildfire suppression. During 1993/94, section staff:
The aviation management section provides aerial services, facilities and aviation support for wildfire suppression and all other Forest Service programs. During 1993/94, pilots flew 23,715 hours for all programs (9,903 hours for wildfire suppression and 13,812 hours for other programs).
Major capital works completed in 1993/94 included the installation of improved fire retardant capture systems at the Puntzi, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Castlegar air tanker bases. These improved systems allow crews to recycle and reuse retardant washed off the aircraft, as well as other residual retardant.
Fire management analysis and development
Staff in this section provide technical support for the fire management computer systems. They also provide support for prescribed-fire use in forest management, and user support for all protection systems. During 1993/94, fire management analysis and development staff developed and maintained computer systems for:
The training section provides technical support for the Fire Suppression Sub-program. During 1993/94, section staff:
The B.C. Forest Service is recognized as a world leader in fire control and suppression, and international development staff continue to market our technology to foreign fire fighting agencies. During 1993/94, protection program international activity expanded through increased visits from foreign agencies. Ecuador, Spain, Chile, New Zealand and Australia all participated in projects involving British Columbia.
Major international interest continued from Mexico, and contract training of Mexican fire crews was ongoing in Mexico and B.C.