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Columbia Forest Fires
BC Forest Fire Policy
Forest Fighting Strategy
British Columbia does not attack all fires in the same manner. Three different forest
fire strategies are deployed depending upon the type of fire in question.
|Type of Fire
||A fire that occurs in remote areas, with no or little timber or aesthetic
values, or if a wildfire occurs in an area where fire is natural part of the ecosystem.
||Containment or simply let the fire take its natural course.
||A fire that occurs in a populated area or threatens valued timber
||Immediate and vigorous action by initial attack crews. May require
additional airborne support in the form of air tankers or heli-tankers.
||Large wildfires that spread beyond the control of initial attack crews.
||Deployment of specialized fire support teams, incident management
teams and information teams. May require a mobile fire camp, employing up to 100
In addition to an aggressive fire suppression policy, the province also uses a prescribed
fire program. Prescribed fires are controlled fires intentionally started by the province
to accomplish planned resource management objectives. These objectives may include:
- Preventing larger natural wildfires by destroying the build up of forest fuels.
- Limiting tree encroachment on grasslands
- Rehabilitating ecosystems
For more information, BC
Ministry of Forests - Prescribed Fires
Provincial Forest Fire Budget
British Columbia provides an annual funding for forest fires. This budget is divided
into two parts: the fire preparedness budget and the direct fire budget.
- Fire Preparedness Budget - This funding is reserved for maintaining
fire-fighting resources in state of readiness. The preparedness budget is approximately
$47.3 million. Specific expenditures include infrastructure, staff salaries, fire
fighter training, computer-systems maintenance, long-term contracted aircraft, and
maintenance of tanker bases, heliports and fire camps. It also provides for enforcement
of the Forest Fire Prevention Regulations, promotion of wildfire safety to communities,
and prescribed fire programs.
- Direct Fire Budget - This funding is for all direct costs associated
with fighting and extinguishing wildfires. For the 2000/01, $30.3 million was allocated
for this direct fire budget. This includes travel for fire fighters, overtime wages,
emergency fire fighter wages, equipment purchases/rentals, air patrols and fire retardant
The direct fire budget is determined by averaging the total costs of fighting fires
in previous years. However, the budgeted amount often falls far short of actual costs.
For example, the province is predicting that the 2003 fire season may cost over $500
million, over ten times the amount budgeted for. In such a situation, Section 10 of
the Forest Act gives the BC Forest Service authority to access a special account (consolidated
For more information, BC Ministry of Forests
- Protective Branch