By: The Working Forest Staff
|The Ontario government is ready to respond to this year’s wildland fire season, which starts tomorrow and runs until October 31. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has hired highly trained firefighters, pilots, and support staff and is providing health and safety, and specialized training. MNRF also ensures equipment is maintained so that the ministry is ready to respond to wildland fires and other natural resource emergencies.
“Our government has been diligently monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the province as well as planning and preparing for the wildland fire season within this evolving landscape,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of the people and communities across the province, including our staff. We will continue to deliver emergency services in the safest work environment possible for employees.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year the government placed province-wide restrictions on the use of outdoor fires by way of a Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ). With health and safety protocols around COVID-19 now well-established, an RFZ is not necessary at this time. However, the province will continue to assess forest fire hazard conditions now that the fire season has arrived and an RFZ designation may be required if the fire hazard warrants.
The ministry is closely monitoring weather conditions – a key factor in determining how busy the fire season will be. MNRF also strives to detect fires early to avoid large, complex fires, especially near communities and critical infrastructure.
· Last year in Ontario there were 607 wildland fires; about half of them were caused by people.
· Ontario is an internationally recognized leader in wildland fire management.
· Ontario participates in agreements with its provincial, federal, and international partners that allow for the sharing of personnel, equipment, and aircraft between agencies during periods of escalated wildland fire activity.