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Province of Ontario preparing for wildland fire season

Local NewsProvince of Ontario preparing for wildland fire season

The provincial government is adding new firefighting positions to ensure the people and resources are in place to protect communities during this year’s wildland fire season, which officially began on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The province is also offering a payment incentive for fire rangers and critical support staff this season and has purchased new equipment to help manage forest fires.

“Throughout the fire season, Ontario’s firefighting staff work tirelessly – under very difficult conditions – to keep people, communities and property safe,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “The start of the fire season is an important time to recognize how important these fire crews are and the brave work they perform to keep the public safe.”

In recognition of the critical services wildland firefighters and pilots perform amid challenging and often dangerous conditions, an attraction and retention incentive payment of up to $5,000 is being provided to employees in front-line fire, aviation and critical support positions to support the 2024 fire season.

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

The government is also taking action to support the wildland fire program with the creation of more than 100 permanent positions to meet the demands of escalated and increasingly complex fire seasons. These positions will contribute to building leadership and experience within our wildland fire program by adding new year-round positions that will support career path opportunities for fire rangers and other staff.

“The government is strengthening emergency preparedness and response by ensuring communities across the province have the resources and equipment they need to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies,” said Caroline Mulroney, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Emergency Management. “We are working closely with municipalities, First Nations communities and partners to ensure the people of Ontario are safe, practiced and prepared for the upcoming wildland fire season.”

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

Last year’s wildland fire season was one of the most challenging Ontario has faced and we are supporting these brave wildland firefighting staff by expanding eligibility for standby pay and reimbursing eligible expenses for training and special safety equipment. The government has also invested $20.5 million to be used over three years to enhance aerial technologies and help increase understanding of evolving fire science and behaviour.

Ontario will continue to work with our partners, Indigenous communities, emergency organizations and agencies to provide support and share personnel, equipment and aircraft as needed to manage fires.

Quick Facts

  • Approximately 50 per cent of all wildland fires are caused by humans.
  • More than 700 wildland fires were reported in Ontario last year, with over 440,000 hectares of forests burned – nearly triple the ten-year average of total hectares burned on the landscape.
  • Ontario is internationally recognized as a leader in wildland fire management and its resources to fight wildland fires include:
    • Hundreds of staff who are highly trained and skilled in supporting and fighting wildland fires
    • A fleet of specialized aircraft used to suppress wildland fires and transport staff across the province
    • Fourteen fire management headquarters, three attack bases and 11 forward attack bases, two regional fire centres, one provincial fire centre (which houses the ministry emergency operations centre), two regional logistics centres and one provincial logistics centre, seven hangars and one flight training centre.

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