Wildfire season runs from March 1 to Oct. 31 in Alberta, which means permits are now required for activities such as residential, industrial or agricultural debris burning.
The wildfire hazard is highest in the spring months when fuels like trees and grass have extremely low moisture content after the snow has melted and evaporated.
Thanks to the diligence of Albertans, effective department preparations and substantial precipitation in many areas of the province, last season proved to be one of the slowest years Alberta has seen in decades in terms of both number of wildfires and area burned.
Alberta Wildfire adapted to the demands of fighting wildfires during the pandemic, adopting strict health and safety protocols at its camps to ensure the safety of staff. To date, there have been no COVID-19 cases at wildfire camps.
“Despite the incredible challenges of 2020, especially with COVID-19, our firefighters successfully contained hundreds of fires in the province. With the adoption of new technology and world-class training, Alberta Wildfire will be ready for whatever the season throws at them.”
Technology and innovation
Wildfire management best practices are always evolving, which highlights the importance of research into and the adoption of new technology and innovative practices. This season, Alberta Wildfire is:
- Exploring remote camera, drone and satellite technologies to help modernize wildfire detection and data collection.
- Implementing modern remote automated weather stations that provide real-time or hourly data rather than once or twice per day.
- Continuing to evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of new firefighting tools and practices (e.g., gels, drones, cameras and water delivery systems such as large and mobile pumps and sprinklers).
- Researching the best tree and vegetation management practices to help Albertans effectively FireSmart their communities and build resilience to wildfires.
2019 Spring Wildfire Review recommendations
Alberta Wildfire continues to make progress on the Spring 2019 Wildfire Review recommendations. Some initiatives have been completed in advance of this wildfire season, while others are multi-year projects.
Key accomplishments to date include:
- Establishing FireSmart Alberta to inform strategic and collaborative actions to improve FireSmart programming.
- Developing a new wildfire app and web-based status map that include more detailed information about fires nearest to app users, fire bans, mountain pine beetle, fire danger ratings, and more.
- Coordinating the fire weather and fire behaviour teams more closely to ensure all tools and information are used in decision-making.
- Up-to-date information on fire restrictions, fire bans, OHV restrictions and general wildfire information is available at albertafirebans.ca or by calling 1-866-FYI-FIRE (1-866-394-3473).
- To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (310-3473) toll-free, from anywhere in Alberta.
- In the 2020 wildfire season, Alberta saw 704 wildfires burn just over 3,269 hectares (8,068 acres). That’s less than one per cent of total area burned when compared to the five-year average.
- Eighty-eight per cent of last season’s wildfires were human-caused.