Burning issue with wildfires

B.C. should fight its own wildfires

Anyone else find it embarrassing and worrying that B.C. doesn’t fight its own large wildfires anymore? 

During busy wildfire seasons, the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch out sources wildfire management to people who have never worked in B.C.’s forests.  Individuals from across the world are brought in, at huge expense, to manage our wildfires.  At the same time, the WMB refuses the assistance of highly skilled and knowledgeable B.C. forest professionals with decades of local experience. 

Our unique forest ecosystems and combination of extreme fire weather, rough topography, diverse forest fuels (dead pine) and forest communities pose some of the most difficult wildfire suppression challenges in the world.  Importing people to manage our wildfires with no local knowledge and no experience with B.C. wildfire suppression tactics leads to inefficient wildfire suppression, increased suppression costs and increased area burned. 

The WMB does some things well.  Their Initial Attack Crews and Unit Crews are the best in Canada.  They have a very dedicated, hardworking field staff.  Their Air Tanker program is world class.  But the wheels come off when it has to manage larger wildfires. B.C. has a world class forestry industry full of people with decades of local forestry and wildfire suppression experience, who are cost effective, efficient and accountable, but are not welcome on wildfire management teams in their own province. 

The WMB prefers to spend millions of B.C. taxpayers dollars unnecessarily on more costly, far less qualified and experienced individuals from outside the province.  No disrespect to the incoming individuals, but B.C. can and should be managing its own wildfires whenever possible.  The Wildfire Management Branch prefers not to do so.

B.C. might on occasion need to call on other jurisdictions to assist with our wildfire suppression management, but only as a last option once all qualified B.C. people are involved, not as a first choice.  We need a strong Wildfire Management Branch in B.C.  It can only be strong and effective if teamed with the skilled, experienced professionals found in B.C.’s forest industry.  Outsourcing our wildfire management is incredibly expensive, inefficient and decreases our capacity to manage our own forests.  We can do better.

Bruce Morrow

Registered Professional Forester

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