Fire knows no borders – and neither do our firefighters. This week, we sent four airtankers, a birddog plane and two air attack officers to Alaska. They’ll help battle wildfires burning in that state and give firefighters in the area a much-needed break.
Alberta has fire-fighting agreements with agencies across Canada, as well as the United States, the state of Jalisco in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. These agreements help us fight wildfires at home and abroad by sharing firefighters and aircraft with areas in need. When these jurisdictions require assistance fighting wildfires, we send firefighters and equipment their way – and they’re committed to doing the same for us, when we need it.
Last year, Alberta sent over 110 firefighters and 30 aircraft to assist with fighting wildfires across North America, including Alaska. In 2012, we brought in 169 firefighters – including nine from Alaska – to help battles blazes in Alberta.
How we know when it’s safe to go
We take these partnerships seriously – but our first priority is always to keep Alberta’s forests safe. The province’s wildfire hazard level is continually monitored, and we only send resources elsewhere when it’s safe to do so. Right now, the hazard level is at a point where we can send some of our aircraft and firefighters to work in places that need them.
There are currently 19 wildfires burning in the Forest Protection Area, none of which are considered out of control. If the situation were to suddenly change, we have plenty of aircraft and firefighters to respond. And if they’re needed, any airtankers working outside of Alberta can be quickly called home.
You can listen to Wildfire Information Officer Geoffrey Driscoll explain more about why we’re sending resources to Alaska on SoundCloud.