EDMONTON, AB – It’s that time of year again and after a winter which has seen very little precipitation here in southern Alberta, there is already a heightened risk of grass and brush fires.

March 1st officially marks the start of wildfire season across the province and the government is gearing up.

From updated digital tools to automated weather stations to drone technology, innovation is at the forefront of Alberta Wildfire’s detection and management practices.

Wildfire season runs now until the end of October in Alberta, which means permits are now required for activities such as residential, industrial or agricultural debris burning.

The wildfire hazard is highest in the spring months when fuels like trees and grass have extremely low moisture content after the snow has melted and evaporated.

Last season proved to be one of the slowest years Alberta has seen in decades in terms of both the number of wildfires and area burned.

Alberta Wildfire adapted to the demands of fighting wildfires during the pandemic, adopting strict health and safety protocols at its camps to ensure the safety of staff. To date, there have been no COVID-19 cases at wildfire camps.

“Despite the incredible challenges of 2020, especially with COVID-19, our firefighters successfully contained hundreds of fires in the province. With the adoption of new technology and world-class training, Alberta Wildfire will be ready for whatever the season throws at them,” says Ag and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshan.

2019 Spring Wildfire Review recommendations

Alberta Wildfire continues to make progress on the Spring 2019 Wildfire Review recommendations. Some initiatives have been completed in advance of this wildfire season, while others are multi-year projects.

Key accomplishments to date include:

  • Establishing FireSmart Alberta to inform strategic and collaborative actions to improve FireSmart programming.
  • Developing a new wildfire app and web-based status map that include more detailed information about fires nearest to app users, fire bans, mountain pine beetle, fire danger ratings, and more.
  • Coordinating the fire weather and fire behaviour teams more closely to ensure all tools and information are used in decision-making.