The reviews examined the government’s support for the prevention, preparedness, response, stabilization and recovery around the wildfire. They were led by KPMG and MNP and are standard practice after major disasters.
“The wildfire was a devastating event that greatly affected the lives of the residents of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. As a government, it is our duty to take a close look at what happened and identify any enhancements that can be made to further support the extraordinary efforts of our wildland firefighters and emergency response staff and help ensure the safety and well-being of Albertans.”
“While the report recognizes the many things the province did right, it also points to areas we can improve. We are committed to implementing all of the recommendations. Through continuous improvement of Alberta’s emergency response system, the Government of Alberta will be better prepared for future emergencies.”
Work to implement the recommendations will build on the province’s emergency response capabilities and actions that have already been taken, including:
- $45 million in FireSmart program funding to assist communities with wildfire prevention and protection activities ($15 million a year increase, Budget 2017)
- Strengthened wildfire protection laws
- Improved procedures to enhance fire weather forecasting
- Making the successful air-traffic control protocols developed in Fort McMurray a new standard
- $125-million investment in a new, state-of-the-art, Provincial Operations Centre (Budget 2017)
The wildfire reviews have concluded that the province and emergency response staff did an effective job during a challenging and complex situation. The third-party independent reviews found that:
- The Horse River (Fort McMurray area) wildfire was an extreme event
- Firefighters were successful at protecting critical infrastructure in the region, which meant that re-entry and recovery efforts could occur sooner
- The province has sound emergency response and wildfire management systems in place
- The provincial response to wildfire was appropriate and timely
In addition to previously announced funding for the new Provincial Operations Centre and the FireSmart programs, the cost to implement the recommendations is approximately $10 million over three years, with the majority of the funding provided within existing budget.