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B.C. firefighters head to Alberta

The BC Wildfire Service is sending 267 personnel to Alberta to help with firefighting efforts due to an increasing wildfire threat in the province.

A total of 267 BCWS personnel will be deployed on Wednesday, May 22 and Thursday, May 23, 2019, to help where needed throughout Alberta:

    • 230 firefighters (consisting of 10 initial attack crews and 10 unit crews)
    • three agency representatives
    • a 19-person incident management team
    • 14 supervisors

The request for assistance was made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between B.C. and other jurisdictions. All associated costs are covered by the jurisdiction that requested the resources.

Considering the current and forecasted fire situation in British Columbia, sufficient personnel and resources remain in the province to respond appropriately to any fire activity here. Crews can be deployed out-of-province for up to 19 days, but can be recalled at any time.

The BC Wildfire Service recognizes the importance of sharing firefighting resources given the invaluable assistance Alberta has provided to B.C. during the last two wildfire seasons, which were the worst in the province’s history.

Quick Facts:

    • Initial attack crew: initial attack firefighters operate as part of a three-person crew and are usually the first on scene of a new wildfire. Once there, the initial attack crew works quickly to set up water pumps, remove fuel from the fire’s path and dig fireguards to help control or extinguish the blaze.
    • Unit crew: a 20-person sustained action unit crew typically works on large fires and can remain self-sufficient in the field for up to 72 hours at a time. Crew members receive extensive training and are knowledgeable about wildfire behaviour, fire management tactics and fireline equipment use.
    • Agency representative: the agency representative acts as a link between deployed crews and the BC Wildfire Service.
    • Supervisors: they supervise fireline personnel as well as assist with managing heavy equipment resources.
  • Incident management team: When wildfires burn for extended periods, or when complex fires occur, incident management teams are called in to assume their overall management.