Report a wildfire: If you see a wildfire in a forested area call 310-FIRE (3473)

Overview

Alberta Wildfire is committed to protecting Alberta’s communities from the threat of wildfire through its compliance and enforcement program. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires through public education, compliance and the enforcement of legislation, including the Forest and Prairie Protection Act.

Legislation

The Forest and Prairie Protection Act is the primary legislation which enables the protection of the forests and prairies of Alberta from wildfire.

  • About the act

    This act:

    • establishes the wildfire season
    • enables cost recovery
    • enables fire control orders
    • sets maximum fine amounts
    • identifies wildland firefighting responsibilities
    • describes the authority of Forest Officers and Fire Guardians
    • provides fire prevention requirements
    • regulates industrial operations for wildfire prevention
    • identifies offences and penalties

    While the act may apply across Alberta, the Government of Alberta is responsible for wildfire activities (such as suppression and prevention) inside the Forest Protection Area (FPA). Outside of the FPA, cities, towns, villages, summer villages, counties and municipal districts are responsible for wildfire activities, but can always request assistance from the Government of Alberta.

  • Regulations

    The following regulations are also under the act:

    Regulation Purpose
    Forest and Prairie Protection Regulation Deals with general and industrial fire prevention measures and includes administrative penalty provisions.
    Forest and Prairie Protection (Ministerial) Regulation Deals with fire hazard reduction as it pertains to debris disposal, conduct of firefighting operations and equipment requirements for industrial or commercial operations.
    Fire Control Zone Regulation Establishes fire control zones in Alberta for the purposes of fire control orders such as restrictions, bans and closures.
    Forest Protection Area Regulation Establishes the Forest Protection Area in Alberta.
    Non-Permit Areas Regulation Describes the lands that are designated as non-permit areas.
  • Ministerial Orders

    Ministerial Orders related to Forestry Division activities include:

    • Area Closure Orders
    • Fire Control Orders
    • Revocation Orders

    2024 Ministerial Orders

    Past Ministerial Orders

    Past Ministerial Orders are hosted on Open Government:

Fines and violations

Individuals who knowingly contravene the act by starting a wildfire will be prosecuted in the courts and can now be fined up to $100,000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years. Industrial users who knowingly contravene the act and start a wildfire can be fined up to $1 million.

Corporations may also face administrative penalties of up to $10,000 per offence per day, for failing to comply with the act and regulations for less severe industrial based offences.

Violation tickets

Violation tickets will be issued for easily observable, straightforward non-compliance. Ticket amounts range from $360 to $1,200 per violation including a 20% victim surcharge under the Victims of Crime Act that is automatically applied to each ticket.

Violation Fine
Burning without having a permit on site $360
Leaving a campfire unattended $600
Failing to extinguish an outdoor fire during a fire restriction or ban $600
Using tracer, incendiary ammunition, fireworks or exploding targets in a forested area $600
Failing to dispose of debris in accordance with the regulations $600
Operating an off-highway vehicle where it is prohibited by a fire ban or forest closure $1,200
Interfering with wildfire control operations Court appearance

For a full list of ticketable offences and fine amounts, see Specified penalties under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act.

Roles

  • Fire Guardians

    Fire Guardians are appointed each year for the beginning of the fire season under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act to promote wildfire prevention in Alberta. One of their main functions is to issue fire permits in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. For a free permit, contact your local area office.

  • Forest Officers

    Forest Officers administer forestry and wildfire based compliance activities in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Forest Officers are appointed under the Forests Act and have the authority for wildfire and forest protection based compliance activities. They may issue fire permits and use additional compliance tools, including fire control orders such as the Order to Remove or Reduce fire danger.

  • Peace Officers

    The Government of Alberta has a number of Forest Officers that are also appointed as Alberta Peace Officers and have the authority to take enforcement actions for wildfire and forest protection based compliance activities including the issuance of violation tickets.

    Alberta Peace Officers are authorized under the Peace Officer Act to perform a range of duties on behalf of the province. Alberta Justice has overall authority for the Public Security Peace Officer Program, as provided in the Peace Officer Act. The Procedures Regulation under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act authorizes violation tickets for wildfire related offences.

  • Other officers

    The RCMP and other Government of Alberta appointed Peace Officers (for example, Fish and Wildlife Officers, Conservation Officers) have full authority under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act. They may assist in education, compliance and enforcement activities on forested lands in Alberta. Additionally, some community Peace Officers may also hold authority to enforce portions of the act within their jurisdictions.

Actions

Below is a list of potential actions that a Forest Guardian, Forest Officer or Peace Officer may take depending on their level of authority.

  • Education

    Education of wildfire legislative and regulatory requirements is one of the functions of Alberta Wildfire. This is key to preventing wildfires and encouraging compliance.

  • Fire permits

    A fire permit is required for all outdoor burning, except cooking and warming fires, within the Forest Protection Area during wildfire season. For more information, see Get a fire permit.

  • Fire advisories, restrictions, bans and closures

    Periodically throughout the wildfire season, permits and/or campfires may be restricted or prohibited within defined areas of the province.

    For more information, see Fire bans.

    For active fire bans in the province, see Alberta Fire Bans.

  • Information letter

    An information letter may be used for education purposes for any human-caused wildfires and may be used to advise a potential responsible party that they may be invoiced for the cost of the wildfire.

  • Order to Reduce or Remove (OTR)

    An OTR is a written, legal instrument and a fire control order. A Forest Officer can issue an OTR for burning contrary to the conditions of a fire permit or can order a removal of a fire or fire hazard under the authority of the Forest and Prairie Protection Act. Non-compliance with an order creates an offence and a violation may be prosecuted accordingly.

  • Written warning

    A written warning informs the regulated party that they are contravening a specific legislative or regulatory requirement and may recommend a course of action to achieve compliance. Written warnings create a formal history of the alleged non-compliance and, in cases where a warning is ignored or repeated, it may lead to an escalated enforcement response.

  • Specified fines/violation ticket

    A specified fine/violation ticket is a form of prosecution under the Provincial Offences Procedure Act that allows dealing effectively with easily observable non-compliance (such as a person who is burning without a permit or during a fire ban). Ticket amounts may range from $360 to $1,200 per violation. A person can either pay the fine indicated or dispute the charge in court.

    See the Fines and violations section above for more information.

  • Administrative penalties

    Administrative penalties are monetary penalties that are applied by a statutory decision-maker if it is determined that legislative or regulatory requirements have been contravened. Penalties can range up to $10,000 per occurrence per day, and the focus is often on industry non-compliance issues, scaling the penalties to reflect the seriousness of the contraventions.

    Determining factors

    Administrative penalties are determined by the department on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that are considered in deciding an administrative penalty are:

    • the severity of the contravention and adverse effects caused by it
    • the degree of wilfulness or negligence in the contravention
    • whether steps have been taken to prevent the contravention or its reoccurrence
    • whether any economic benefit was derived
  • Cost recovery

    Cost recovery is intended to recover firefighting costs, suppression expenses and other damages suffered by the Crown from the responsible party. This can occur in several ways, including through the court system’s civil litigation process.

  • Prosecutions

    A prosecution is undertaken when an individual or a corporation is alleged to have contravened the law and is prosecuted in court. It is often reserved for more serious violations and situations. Under the Forest and Prairie Protection Act, the maximum fine that can be levied is $100,000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years in the case of an individual, and $1,000,000 in the case of a corporation. Prosecutions can also occur for Criminal Code offences.