Additional Wildfire Support
If the province is experiencing significant fire activity, the BC Wildfire Service may call upon other agencies for additional resources such as equipment, personnel and/or aircraft.
During the fire season, the BC Wildfire Service works closely with the contractor community to determine how we can best match our needs with their availability and expertise. The BC Wildfire Service has arrangements with dozens of companies from all parts of the province to provide contract firefighters and support personnel.
Type 2 contract firefighters
Type 2 contract firefighters are often called to assist with wildfires that have lower intensity and present a lower risk to firefighter safety. Typically, Type 2 contract firefighters are used to supplement Type 1 firefighters. They are used in a variety of scenarios, including mop-up, patrol and other support activities. In preparation for the 2020 wildfire season, the BC Wildfire Service procured 19 contracts for eight-person, Type 2 firefighting crews (providing 152 qualified firefighters).
Type 3 contract firefighters
Type 3 contract firefighters are a contingency resource who are called to action when other firefighting resources are running short. These firefighters usually perform mop-up, patrols, camp demobilisation and other support functions. The BC Wildfire Service has agreements with companies for Type 3 firefighting crews throughout the province. These companies can provide up to about 1,500 private Type 3 contractor firefighting personnel.
Out of province personnel and equipment
The assistance the BC Wildfire Service receives from other jurisdictions consists of highly trained, specialized personnel and resources that are instrumental to our wildfire response capabilities. Bringing this assistance in from outside of the province does not take work away from local, qualified and available companies.
Mutual aid agreements
Additional national and international resources are available as needed, through mutual aid agreements, to ensure that we have the capacity to manage the wildfire situation throughout B.C. Out of province resources can be crucial during periods when the province is responding to a very high number of fires, or particularly active fires requiring many resources. Mutual aid agreements allow for the sharing of personnel and resources both within the jurisdictions of Canada and, if necessary, internationally. Any incoming firefighting crews are trained to Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) standards. The cost of bringing in firefighting personnel (firefighters, wildfire management professionals, support staff) and aircraft from other provinces or countries is covered by the B.C. government.
Conversely, during periods of minimal fire activity the BC Wildfire Service may make personnel and resources available to other agencies, with all costs being covered by the receiving jurisdiction. Requests for out-of-province assistance are made through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), which co-ordinates the sharing of firefighting resources within Canada.
From a firefighting personnel perspective, our focus is on using trained and experienced firefighting personnel from across Canada before engaging the military in the on-the-ground response to the wildfires. In unusually active fire seasons, the Canadian military has been engaged to help monitor front-line needs. In 2018, for example, the provincial government asked the federal government for assistance with its firefighting efforts to help protect public safety, property and infrastructure. Over 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel were brought in to help with the mop-up and patrol of contained fires (under the supervision of the BC Wildfire Service), thereby freeing up Type 1 firefighters so they could be redeployed to more active wildfires.