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MLA Report

Thanking our forest firefighting crews

In Manitoba we have direct experience with forest fires.

We also have some of the best forest firefighters in the world.

This year the cool, wet weather has resulted in a forest fire season that has been less heavy than in previous years. There have been 130 fires across Manitoba this fire season, consuming approximately 2,437hectares. Approximately 77 fires were caused by humans and 53 were caused by lightning. Thus far there have been far fewer fires than in the years when we have had major fires. In 1989 we had no fewer than 1,226 fires that damaged 3,567,947 hectares. In 2003 we had 1,226 fires that destroyed 918,845 hectares.

Elsewhere in Canada there has been a very different situation this year in comparison to Manitoba. British Columbia is experiencing a heavy fire season with new fires flaring up daily during a heat wave.

Manitoba's forest fire situation remains quiet. It has allowed us to assist British Columbia with80 forest firefighters.

Here in Manitoba, our provincial Conservation Fire Program is responsible for the detection and suppression of wild fires. The program manages all human and equipment resources needed for fighting wild fires in the province. Staff monitors weather patterns, lightning strikes, soil moisture and forest conditions to determine the probability and location of wild fires. Manitoba's Fire Program works in close co-operation with other forest firefighting agencies and jurisdictions. Equipment and other resources are shared through the Canadian Inter Agency Forest Fire Centre. The deployment of the Manitoba crews was co-ordinated by the centre.

Manitoba crews have been deployed on a number of fires and remain mobile at all times. In addition to the 80firefighters, 25 pumps and relay tanks will be shipped to British Columbia.The first group of 40firefighters departed July 25 along with 50 pumps.

When we have had major problems with forest fires we have received similar assistance from other provinces. We have also been prepared to assist or neighbours in the United States. In recent years, Manitoba has dispatchedforest firefighters to Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Oregon and the Yukon and CL-215 water bombers to Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Minnesota.

Over the years our firefighters have worked hard to improve firefighting tactics to the point where there is far less damage from comparable fires than there was in the past. Our firefighting crews have also put a major emphasis on safety. Over the years they have saved many lives and prevented a great deal of damage to homes, businesses and communities.

As our crews head off to British Columbia we have the opportunity to recognize the tremendous work they do.

We all owe the staff at Conservation and our firefighters, many of whom are from Northern Manitoba, thanks for all they do to protect us every forest fire season.

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