Alberta’s government is preparing for the upcoming wildfire season following unprecedented wildfires in 2023 that impacted communities across the province. Significant investments are being made to the province’s wildfire prevention, preparedness, and response to ensure Alberta’s government can help communities prepare for the 2024 wildfire season.

The Community Fireguard Program is a valuable tool communities can employ to help educate residents and lower the risk of large wildfires. This year’s budget provides an additional $14 million to the program to support Alberta communities, bringing total funding to $19 million. In addition, the budget includes funding for two additional airtanker groups and two new night vision-equipped helicopters.

“I am encouraged by the increased interest in both the FireSmart and Fireguard Programs this year. Albertans and their communities are wanting to better prepare themselves against the dangers of wildfire.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

Enhancing wildland firefighting operations

The addition of two airtanker groups and two new night-vision equipped helicopters will increase the effectiveness of Alberta Wildfire’s initial attack, sustained action and suppression efforts. Airtankers play a crucial role in limiting the spread when a wildfire breaks out, allowing ground crews to break up fuel sources and fully extinguish the wildfire.

The combination of additional airtankers and night vision helicopters will also contribute to Alberta’s enhanced night operations, which was piloted during the 2023 wildfire season, allowing for nighttime heli-tanking and improved suppression efforts. Wildfire behaviour is typically more subdued at night, as temperatures are usually lower and humidity is higher, leading to increased ability and possibility to extinguish fires. 

Supporting community wildfire resilience

Last fall, Alberta’s government launched the Community Fireguard Program with an initial investment of $5 million. The program, which is administered by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta, helps protect communities by clearing the area near or surrounding a community that breaks the path of a wildfire to cut it off from fuel sources that could potentially drive it towards property, infrastructure or other values at risk.

The Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta has experienced high interest in the program, signalling that communities throughout the province are eager to proactively prepare for the impacts of wildfire. In response to this demand, Alberta’s government has increased investment in the Community Fireguard Program to help support Albertans.

“The Community Fireguard Program allows Albertans to take an active role in preparing their communities for the impacts of wildfire, leading to a safer province.”

Richard Briand, president, Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta

Alberta’s government encourages everyone to download the Alberta Wildfire and Alberta Fire Bans apps, regularly check the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard, remain up to date on fire bans, restrictions and advisories throughout the province, and above all, exercise extreme caution when spending time outdoors.

Over the past five years, an average of 67 per cent of wildfires have been caused by people. Don’t be that person this wildfire season.

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