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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


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. 2003 2003:An Unprecedented Fire Season British Columbia An Unprecedented Fire Season In Review

    2. 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

    3. 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

    4. BC’s Protection Program Three levels: provincial, fire centre, zone PrinceGeorge North-West Cariboo Kamloops Coastal Southeast

    5. 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

    6. 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

    7. Fires in British Columbia

    8. Effectiveness - Area Burned1992-2001 average

    9. Preparedness Budget 1992-2001 average

    10. Snow Pack April 1, 2003

    11. Startup Drought

    12. Canadian Instituteof Climate Studies Old Farmers Almanac forecast for southern BC Dry Precipitation Forecast

    13. 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

    14. 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

    15. 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

    16. Drought CodeJune 22, 2003

    17. Exported Resources (June)

    18. 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

    19. 2003 Drought

    20. Other Provincial Maximums:Alberta - 945 Saskatchewan - 700 Ontario - 600 New Brunswick - 500 Drought Analysis

    21. Buildup Index Analysis

    22. Drought MapSeptember 4, 2003

    23. 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

    24. 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

    25. 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)

    26. 2003 In Context

    27. 2003 In Context

    28. 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

    29. MARS Crews and Staff

    30. Operation Peregrine Aug 2 - Sep 22 • largest military operation of 2003 • 920 fire fighters • 1600 total military personnel • 4 helicopters • $19 million

    31. Out of Province Contractors

    32. Crew/Staff Requests (MARS) FF= Firefighters Spec.= Specialists FMT= Fire Mgmt Team VPU=Values Protection Unit

    33. Total Crews Deployed

    34. Equipment • Borrowed: - 809 Mark III pumps - 27,360 lengths of hose • Purchased: - 101 Mark III pumps - 38,119 lengths of hose

    35. 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

    36. 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

    37. Safety • 3 million+ fireline hours worked: huge exposure and potential for serious injury • 11 serious accidents (MVAs, heavy equipment) • 3 aviation fatalities

    38. 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

    39. 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

    40. Looking Forward…

    41. Looking Forward… Sept. - Oct. - Nov. 2003 Dry Warm

    42. Looking Forward… Dec. - Jan. - Feb. 2004 Warm Dry

    43. Looking Forward… March -April - May 2004 Dry Warm

    44. Looking Forward… June -July - Aug. 2004 Dry Warm

    45. Mountain Pine Beetle Area

    46. 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

    47. 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

    48. 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

    49. What it was like to sit in the media hot seat…

    50. Thank You