We asked NS Dept. Of Natural Resources how prepared they are for wildfire season. Fire Prevention Officer Kara McCurdy responded with this message.
“ As far as wildfire season goes, the planning doesn’t just start with the onset of nice weather, in fact it never stops. Staff at the Provincial Fire Center each have a roll, be it improving training for staff and fire departments province wide, using the most innovative equipment to make suppression and detection are faster, or making sure that the media message is delivered to all age groups in burn restrictions, current fire status and prevention and also evaluating what “risk” there is in wildfire by examining statistics and determining the risk based on fuels, fire frequency and causes, and planning around these. Through-out the winter staff attend meetings nationally and internationally to compare all of the above with other provinces and states and use weather probability maps to predict what could occur.
Staff in the 24 district offices placed throughout the province, make sure that equipment is in working order and is distributed to the local fire departments for use in emergencies, and that they have a fire schedule and contacts list available. During the first few weeks of April our wildfire suppression crews return and are immediately set into training upgrades and have to all take fitness testing, whether it be for in province or for assisting other provinces.
From April to Late May we expect the fire occurrences to be increased before grasses green-up and leaves flush out so our other work usually gets put aside so we can be available to assist in an emergency.
Preparations include making sure that the weather stations and weather is accurate, that contact lists and protocols are in place and updated, that industrial burning permits are distributed to the district Natural Resources Offices, and that all staff, firefighters are communicated any changes for that season.”
Each year brings on new challenges and with every wildfire we learn from our set-backs and improve on the system to make it better the following season, banking on our own staff and outside expertise.”