Alberta had one of the best wildfire programs in the world. Budget cuts have left the province at risk

By Trina Moyles, author
The Globe & Mail
May 18, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

I worked for Alberta Wildfire for seven years as a lookout observer. …More impressive than the rate of spread of the wildfires was the speed at which Alberta’s firefighting response system was triggered into action. The tower to my east reported the locations of the fires to the district’s duty officer. A radio dispatcher answered and dispatched firefighting crews. …Within minutes, the wildfire was confirmed. The radio erupted with voices. I watched tankers hit the flames with red clay retardant to box the fire in. Multiple crews landed to work the fire from the ground. As a rookie lookout, I was in awe. …A series of government cutbacks and defunding, however, has seriously damaged Alberta Wildfire’s ability to prevent and respond to wildfires. The NDP cut $15-million from the budget in 2016. Three years later, the United Conservative Party (UCP)… slashed the Rappel Attack Program and decommissioned 26 fire towers.

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