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October 28, 2017 3:39 am

BC Burns Through Wildfire Budget

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 2:13 PM

Prince George, B.C. – The summer is not even a week old and the provincial government has nearly burnt through its $63 million wildfire budget.dollarsflames(3)

Since the start of the wildfire season April 1, the province has fought 566 fires and spent $62.5 million dollars.

That’s about double the 308 fires and $30 million spent provincially at this time last year.

Fire information officer Navi Saini says the province will continue to spend whatever amount necessary.

“It is likely we will exceed this budget, however we are always willing to spend whatever it takes to protect life and property. We do have contingency funds available.”

She says over 52,000 of the 64,000 hectares of forest burnt provincially has come in the Prince George Fire Centre, in large part due to the Little Bobtail Lake fire.

From 2003-2013, the ten year average in terms of money spent is $170.4 million (2009 the highest at $382 million).


Not to hard burning through tax dollars with incompetent people equipped with govt purchase cards on the loose.

I bet the budget guy asked for twice the amount he got.
Or, guvmint didn’t read the Farmers Almanac.

My Uncle used to work in forestry and said there were technologies to stop wildfires fairly easily, a type of foamy material sprayed that puts out fires quick but said they didn’t want to employ this as it would put many people out of work and they couldn’t ask for a bigger budget the following years

Wellll, I spent many years in Forestry and almost always there are team discussions on how to fight wildfires, these continue throughout the life of a fire. And, NO fires are the same.
I have seen stupid comments on this site and I would say these first three are just that, but the third one by pgbcca1 takes the cake.

Pgbcca, the biggest problem with that foam is cost and shelf life.. Plus you need special equipement to use it as well as the appropriate water pressure.. It isn’t cost effective ..

as for the budget.. The gov just moves money around as they see fit.. Why don’t they steal another 900 million from ICBC..or a couple hundred million from be hydro.. Or another hundred million or so from healthcare or education.

There are still so many miles of beetle kill that takes very little to start a fire and also,with the amount of lightening and the dry weather the gov should have set aside extra for forest fires.. It was predicted last year of the hot summer we would be having ..did our gov be proactive and smart…no of course not..so we are now in the situation we are.

Isn’t this where all you arm chair firefighters chime in to tell us how the Martin Mars is the answer to all our wildland fire issues. Common boys don’t let me down !

I spent many years with the WMB nuffsnuff1. A lot different than you in “forestry” (tree planter?) and I take offence to you calling my statement “stupid”. You know not of what you speak. I do.

Lets not forget honourable mention of the local business’s near anyone of the Wildfires in BC over the years, that absolutely gouge the govt for supplies and services procured from them for fire suppression.

Fighting wildfires is just about the same ‘financially’ as having a war. There never was any constraints on either so far as the ‘money’ is concerned. What actually constrained us in both instances was whether the men and the material needed to do the job were available or could be procured ~ if they could be, money was no object. And if they couldn’t be, having the money wouldn’t have done anyone any good anyways.

In the case of forest fires, the questions which ought to be asked are:

1. What is being done and how much is being spent on prevention?

2. What is being done and how much is being spent on mitigation once a fire has started?

3. What is the total loss accounting for loss of use of the fibre, wildlife, etc. as well as developed improvements to the land such as bridges, parks, seasonal cottages and homes?

4. What is the estimate of damages had there been no prevention programs and projects as well as mitigating firefighting programs and projects?

5. Finally, in order to reduce the net loss, where does one get the “best bang for the buck” when looking the spending side? Is the approach we are taking to forest fires the best we can do, or are we relying too much on knee-jerk reactions and coming out at the end by having an attitude of “it costs what it costs and there is nothing we can do to impact the bottom line when it comes to wildfire management.”

BTW, I think the questions around an offensive or defensive war are virtually the same. So are the questions around terrorism.

On the BC Wildfire Management Branch’ web page they claim the total amount spent in direct fire costs (suppression) for the 2014 season was $298 million.

In 2013 it was $122 million with $17 million recovered from out-of-province deployments.

In 2012 it was $155 million with $8.5M from out-of-province deployments.

Costs are provided for each year up to the 1998 fire season. In that year it cost more than $150 million to fight fires.

The media release from the Province is totally misleading.

The fact is that the province never sets aside a realistic budget, probably so that it does not tie up the budgets of those departments which have much more controllable functions, leaving such departments as Wildfire with access to emergency funds as needed.

I understand it has been the approach no matter which party is in government.

what’s all the fuss? we have the same story every year its just that our word smiths have to live as well so they give us the same story each year. and as has been pointed out money is not a problem.

The problem, I think, is that the government tries to use the ‘Budget’, for functions far beyond what any budget alone can accurately do. They should move towards the same type of accrual accounting that’s used in every other business that produces or delivers goods and services to the general public.

Instead, we have this pretense that revenue must equal expenditure in one an the same fiscal period. This is the equivalent of saying, in the universal call by all the current parties to always have a ‘balanced Budget’, that the government is fully recovering all its expenditure, including the cost of all its capital expenditure on things that will last years into the future, in the same year it was incurred. No business could ever do this, and it’s an utter fallacy to believe a government can either. So we have a ‘balanced Budget’, sometimes, and even legislation enacted to ensure such, occasionally, but the overall level of government debt keeps rising. Because it’s not “tax and spend”, as some are so fond of saying, but rather “BORROW, spend, and then tax”. Only what’s ‘borrowed’ didn’t exist before it was borrowed. And won’t exist after what’s paid in taxes cancels it. But while it did exist it created some form of wealth. And that lasts beyond it. And there’s no current accounting for that just using a budget.

The government is not like most other businesses because it works, in part, on a self-insuring basis for any sort of disaster response capacity, whether wildfires, floods, storms, earthquakes, acts of war, etc. Thus, some level of contingency funds are available for that purpose.

It is not much different than operating an insurance business. The funding comes from ratepayers in both cases. One is called a tax, the other is called an insurance premium. If the contingency for disastrous years is not enough, governments can raise taxes to accommodate major changes in the contingency set aside or reduce spending in other areas. Insurance companies generally raise premiums, and often raise premiums in those areas which have proven to become more risky, or maintain premiums for those who show they reduce risk by taking greater preventative actions.

When one looks at last year’s PR response when the $63Million (same as this year’s) budget was exceeded, the response was totally different than this year, explaining it the way I posted above. I did not dream that up. It was the rational explanation provided previously and anyone familiar with the work of the Wildfire Branch should know that.

It is shoddy PR that causes the types of knee-jerk responses one receives on news blogs. The government’s talking heads ought to know better.

Can Canada and its provinces take another approach to disaster emergency response, especially in the case of wildfires?

This is a report from an integrated responder approach in Colorado.

“Denver, Colo, Thursday, April 10, 2015 – The Colorado Army National Guard 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, will partner with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, Bureau of Land Management, and Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control in an annual inter-agency wildland fire training exercise by conducting helicopter-based fire suppression training April 10-16. The 2-135th AVN will be working with active duty Army aviation units from Ft. Carson, as well as National Guard units from Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

“Residents and visitors in and near the vicinity of Chatfield Reservoir, Waterton Canyon and Strontia Springs Reservoir may notice military helicopters in the area during daylight hours approximately from approximately 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as military personnel conduct training exercises in preparation for wildfire response. All training has been closely coordinated with park staff to ensure it is conducted in a safe manner with minimal to park visitors or park operations. The parks will remain open during the exercises.

“Months of preparation were required for this exercise, ensuring the coordination of site locations, planning, movement of equipment and environmental considerations.”

Perhaps some of the Federal Candidates from this and other northern ridings across Canada’s wildfire prone provinces might want to include that in their election platforms. Strengthen the national armed forces capacity while increasing the local wildfire fighting capacity across the country and perhaps even the capacity to extract seriously injured workers and travellers from remote northern sites.

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