Fisheries and Land Resources
October 3, 2019
Forest Fire Prevention and Education Efforts Paying Dividends
Efforts to create greater public awareness about wildfire safety and prevention, combined with fewer fire starts, are having positive results. The overall number of forest fire starts and total area burned was down again during the 2019 fire season, particularly in Labrador. This marked the third consecutive year where the fire starts and area burned are well below the previous ten-year average.
In 2019, 97 fires burned a total of 322 hectares of forest land - down from 2018 when 132 fires burned a total of 396 hectares of forest land. This is also lower than the previous provincial ten-year average of 114 fires and 33,831 hectares burned. In 2019, Fisheries and Land Resources fire suppression staff responded to 63 fires in Eastern Newfoundland (88 hectares burnt); 29 in Western Newfoundland (36 hectares burnt) and 5 fires in Labrador (198 hectares burnt).
The reduction in fires starts and forest area impacted by fire in 2019 is very encouraging and is a testament to the coordinated fire prevention approach employed by the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources. Continued fire fighter training and strategic positioning of fire suppression resources combined with wildfire safety and prevention efforts such as encouraging greater public use of online fire hazard forecast maps is having a positive impact. To date in 2019 there have been over 20,000 visits to the department’s fire hazard forecast map web page.
A significant accomplishment during the 2019 forest fire season was engaging twelve communities around the province to partake in the FireSmart Canada Communities Recognition program - the highest number of grants ever awarded in the province. This program provides support to municipalities to help reduce the risk of wildfire damage to cottages, homes and neighborhoods. Staff from the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources provided support at several Wildfire Community Preparedness Day events. In addition, Local FireSmart Representatives worked with a number of municipal fire departments to provide awareness and training about fire operations in the Wildland Urban Interface.
During the 2019 fire season there were eighty-four forest fire fighters and seven student fire fighters on staff to respond to forest fires. The student fire fighters were hired as part of a new program and made a positive contribution to the department’s overall forest fire fighting efforts during the season. The student program provided participants with the opportunity to gain new skills and experience in forest fire suppression and other forest management related activities.
The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources also assisted with fire suppression efforts in other parts of the country. In June, the department deployed a twenty member crew and incident management personnel to Alberta for 19 days as part of a Mutual Aid Resource Sharing Agreement in place between the Province and other forest fire fighting agencies.
“The work of fire management personnel to better educate and inform the public about the negative impact of wildfires is resulting in a positive impact on the health of our forest resources. The reduction in fire starts and area burned over the past several seasons is gratifying as it appears to indicate that those who use our forests understand the risks from fire and are taking the action necessary to protect this cherished resource from destruction.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources
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Fisheries and Land Resources
2019 10 03 10:30 a.m.