BC is notorious for having wildfires every summer. Although far away, the BC government is already starting to prepare for the 2019 wildfire season. In order to prevent this year's wildfires from breaking already devastating records, the BC government will be spending over $100 million and investing it into new technology.
In 2017 and 2018, BC had two of the most devastating fire seasons on record. These wildfires took out record amounts of land and jeopardized thousands of people's lives and homes. In order to prevent this from happening again, the BC government is amping up wildfire prevention by sustainably increasing the amount of funding.
As part of Budget 2019, the provincial government has increased wildfire management funding by 58%. This will mean $101 million will be supplied annually for the upcoming wildfire seasons including 2019. Along with the additional money, prevention tactics and prevention awareness programs will be increased.
The $101 million worth of funding will aim to provide more help to the BC Wildfire Service. This will be done by adding more fire response crews and enhancing aerial capacity. More money will also be put towards fire prevention tactics including comprehensive prescribed burns.
Innovative technology will also be introduced. New this summer, fire crews will be testing out night vision goggles as part of their new fire prevention tactics. These goggles will be part of a pilot project to determine if they are necessary for crews. According to the BC government, these goggles will help aid in early detection and, therefore, response.
Drones, computers, and tablets will also be used this year by wildfire staff to help with aerial surveillance and inferred scanning. These tools will also help with the and mapping of the fire.
The Cool Creek #BCwildfire burning ~22 km east of Eastgate, was discovered Aug 15 and has now merged with two other wildfires. This fire is burning in the vicinity of the Placer Mountain Fire. It is currently estimated at 6000 hectares and is beyond resources at this time. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/fUJuleqfvx— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 18, 2018
The integration of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft has also been improved to maximize efficiency. One of the improvements is that in 2019, firefighting aircraft contracts will be longer. This means the availability period for certain aircraft has been increased from 100 days to 120 days.
(1/2) The Alkali Lake #BCwildfire (~9,000 ha) and South Stikine River fire (~19,000 ha) near Telegraph Creek are still showing significant fire activity. The fires are expected to merge into one if they have not already. 95 personnel, 10 helis, heavy equip. and airtankers on site pic.twitter.com/Y2L4TMZ99W— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) August 8, 2018
According to the provincial government, more than 1,600 firefighters and support staff will be available for the 2019 wildfire season. Fire centres in Prince George and the northeast will also be adding additional attack crews in remote locations.
Last year, the Prince Goerge Fire Centre got hit with some incredibly devastating fires that covered thousands of hectares of land. In these areas, homes were evacuated as wildfires quickly crept into cities and communities. With the $101 million investment, the BC government is hoping to avoid any more tragedies.