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2003. 2003:An Unprecedented Fire Season. British Columbia An Unprecedented Fire Season In Review. Presentation Format. 2003 pre-season conditions events as they unfolded drought, fires, evacuations what’s happening now rehabilitation, de-briefs/reviews

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2003 an unprecedented fire season

2003

2003:An Unprecedented Fire Season

British Columbia

An Unprecedented Fire Season In Review


Presentation format
Presentation Format

  • 2003 pre-season conditions

  • events as they unfolded

    • drought, fires, evacuations

  • what’s happening now

    • rehabilitation, de-briefs/reviews

  • looking ahead to future seasons

    • preparation, policy changes, what can we do better next time


Bc s protection program
BC’s Protection Program

  • independent branch within BCFS since 1995

  • no “boundaries” between Fire Centers – resources moved where needed

  • largest annual fire workload in Canada

  • mid-sized program in terms of staff, seasonal Type 1 crews

  • preparedness budget $49 million

  • direct fire (statutory acct.) target $55 million

  • increasing client funding contributions:

    • Feds (FN), Forest Industry, Private landowners, Utilities, etc.

    • 2002 - $3.5M, 2003 - $16M, 2004 - $28-35M


Bc s protection program1
BC’s Protection Program

Three levels: provincial, fire centre, zone

PrinceGeorge

North-West

Cariboo

Kamloops

Coastal

Southeast


Protection Business PlanOperating Principles

  • maintain unsurpassed safety standards

  • encourage innovation at all levels in the organization

  • train, empower and support staff

  • deliver services in a professional and business-like manner

  • aggressively pursue workforce diversity and an inclusive working environment


Protection Business PlanProgram Objectives

  • prevent human-caused fires

  • be prepared to aggressively attack all unwanted fires

  • keep area burned by wildfires as small as possible

  • provide timely fire management services to land managers

  • pursue revenue opportunities



Effectiveness area burned 1992 2001 average
Effectiveness - Area Burned1992-2001 average


Preparedness Budget 1992-2001 average




Precipitation forecast

Canadian Instituteof Climate Studies

Old Farmers Almanac forecast for southern BC

Dry

Precipitation Forecast


Global Fire Situation

"This year's fire season has been one of the worst in recent history, in terms of loss of human life and damage to forests and infrastructure, which includes housing, roads, bridges and telecommunication," - Mike Jurvelius, forest fire specialist with FAO.

  • Europe's worst-hit country, Portugal, loses over 400,000 hectares

  • In France, almost 45,000 hectares are destroyed.

  • Australia loses 60 million hectares last year

  • The Russian Federation lost over 23 million hectares- double the area lost the previous year.

  • In 2002 US loses 6.9 million acres ($1.6B), and in 2003 fires in California result in loss of more than 20 lives and 3000+ homes


Fire Season Preparations

  • full complement of suppression resources

    • initial attack & sustained action crews, air tankers, helicopters, contract resources avail.

  • additional pine beetle area fire crews hired/trained

  • early startup in some Fire Centers (KFC, SEFC)

  • ongoing availability of other government staff

  • use of alternate budget sources to ensure full preparedness – this was done in face of overall government budget reductions

  • season outlook and “potential” communicated early to communities and other agencies


Operational challenges
Operational Challenges

  • High turnover in 2003 from downsizing

    • 38 new regular (placed) staff (18%)

    • 180 new firefighters (20%)

    • loss of corporate knowledge/experience(managers, technicians, firefighters)

  • Budget pressures

    • $1.5 million in wage settlements (2 years)

    • $0.2 million in air tanker inflation adjustments

    • $0.4 million in increased training costs

      Solution for 2003: early termination dates, reduction of HQ staff, and other efficiencies to meet budget shortfall


Drought code june 22 2003
Drought CodeJune 22, 2003



Season conditions
Season Conditions

Early July – it’s apparent that the 2003 fire season

has increasing potential as drought conditions

continue…

2003

1985

1994

Canadian extreme

1998



Drought analysis

Other Provincial Maximums:Alberta - 945

Saskatchewan - 700

Ontario - 600

New Brunswick - 500

Drought Analysis



Drought map september 4 2003
Drought MapSeptember 4, 2003


Fire Distribution

2,216 fires < 4 hectares

110 fires > 100 hectares

36 fires > 1,000 hectares

8 fires > 10,000 hectares

Total 2,517 fires


Major fires july 16 aug 27
Major Fires July 16- Aug. 27

  • Hell’s Gate – 136 ha

  • Tatla Lk – 1,867 ha

  • SW Bonapartre Lk – 1,500 ha

  • Chilko Lk – 29,202 ha

  • McLure – 26,420 ha

  • Vaseaux – 3,300 ha

  • Vermillion – 3,981 ha

  • Sicamous – 130 ha

  • McGillivray – 11,400 ha

  • Venables Valley – 7,635 ha

Kuskanook – 4,832 ha

Lamb Creek – 10,979 ha

Plumbob Mt. – 2,870 ha

Harrogate – 1,018 ha

Ingersol – 6,700 ha

Burton – 530 ha

Kutetl – 7,808 ha

Cedar Hills – 1,620 ha

Anarchist Mt. – 1,230 ha

Strawberry Hill – 5,731 ha

Okanagan Mtn. Park – 25,600 ha


Other Threatening Fires

  • Fawn Peak Fire - Washington State

  • Wedge Canyon Fire - Montana

  • Toga Mt. Fire - Washington State.

  • Lost Creek – Alberta

  • Arson – a major problem this year

    Estimated 131 arson fires this year (6 arrests so far)




Daily maximums
Daily Maximums

  • number of new fires 218 (763 fires over 6 days)

  • 880 fires burning

  • 7,668 firefighters deployed

  • 1,211 pieces of heavy equipment deployed

  • 220 helicopters deployed

  • $9 million per day in costs

  • international, national and local media attention – fire the lead item on local TV/Radio for almost 5 straight weeks

  • At HQ +/- 150 media enquiries daily



Operation peregrine
Operation Peregrine

Aug 2 - Sep 22

  • largest military operation of 2003

  • 920 fire fighters

  • 1600 total military personnel

  • 4 helicopters

  • $19 million



Crew staff requests mars
Crew/Staff Requests (MARS)

FF= Firefighters

Spec.= Specialists

FMT= Fire Mgmt Team

VPU=Values Protection Unit



Equipment

  • Borrowed: - 809 Mark III pumps

    - 27,360 lengths of hose

  • Purchased: - 101 Mark III pumps

    - 38,119 lengths of hose


Air tankers used in 2003

Borrowed:

2 Martin Mars (TimberWest)

2 CL415s (Ontario)

6 CL415s (Quebec)

1 DC 6 (Yukon)

3 Firecats (Yukon)

3 AT802 (New Brunswick)

1 Fireboss (Conair)

3 Convairs (Conair)

2 DC 6 (Conair)

23 Additional Airtankers

Current contracts:

2 802s

3 Electras

2 Convair 580s

6 Firecats

13 Airtankers

Air Tankers Used In 2003


Restrictions & Declarations

  • Open Burning Restrictions June 6 - September

  • Camp fire bans imposed July 23-31

  • Provincial State of Emergency DeclaredAugust 1 - September 14

  • Forest Road Closures August 1-19

  • Voluntary Travel Restriction issued August 20

  • Forest Use Travel Restriction imposed August 29 – September 12


Safety
Safety

  • 3 million+ fireline hours worked: huge exposure and potential for serious injury

  • 11 serious accidents (MVAs, heavy equipment)

  • 3 aviation fatalities


Estimated costs
Estimated Costs

  • $365+ million for firefighting

  • $50-60 million for rehabilitation

  • $60+ million for reforestation

  • $100 million for OFC and PEP

  • Total cost: +/- $575 million


Looking forward
Looking Forward…

Provincial Review

  • government priorities

  • legislation/new WFA 2004

  • policy changes, PEP

    Program Reviews

  • interagency

  • Protection task teams

    Fire Reviews

    - done by fire

    - areas to improve on



Looking forward2
Looking Forward…

Sept. - Oct. - Nov. 2003

Dry

Warm


Looking forward3
Looking Forward…

Dec. - Jan. - Feb. 2004

Warm

Dry


Looking forward4
Looking Forward…

March -April - May 2004

Dry

Warm


Looking forward5
Looking Forward…

June -July - Aug. 2004

Dry

Warm



Preparing for 2004
Preparing for 2004

  • equipment refurbishment

  • ff recruiting/hiring starts in January 2004

  • impacts of workforce adjustment/ERIP/VDP

  • expanded District Partnership Program – more staff to train, draw on if required

  • establishment of firefighter reserve force

  • community discussions – Fire Smart, structural protection units, more x-training with structural fire departments, industry

  • Filmon review recommendations


Important questions we are asking ourselves
Important questions we are asking ourselves

  • Was the 2003 drought an anomaly?

  • Is there a possibility of another 2003?

  • Could a future fire seasons be worse than 2003?

  • What are the prudent actions for the future?

    • closer work with insurance industry?

    • better opportunities for fire prevention?

    • increased fuel management programs?

    • increased or more specialized resources?

  • Who has responsibilities?

    • individuals, communities, regional districts, province, Canada


Key policy decisions
Key Policy Decisions

  • Wildfire act - firefighting priorities, fire application, cost-sharing, regulations

  • Ecosystem restoration - implications to timber supply

  • Fuel management - responsibilities, resources, FRPA/WFA

  • Prescribed burning - resources, planning, smoke management, risks, public acceptance

  • Firefighting strategies - “new worst case”, resources, role of contractors, ...

  • Community protection - responsibilities, agreement, training, structure protection




In memory
In Memory

Ian Mackay

Eric Ebert

Ben von Hardenberg


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