PG Fire Centre Prepares for Wildfire Season
Prince George, B.C. – You may have a foot of snow in your front yard but staff has already started trickling back to work at the Prince George Fire Centre.
“Yes, we had fire crew and auxiliary support staff begin to return to work in late February and there are several start dates throughout the spring,” says Amanda Reynolds, fire information officer. “But all staff will be back to work by early May.
Provincially, she says hiring for fire centres throughout the province is still a work in progress.
“We’ve selected 600 candidates from 1,100 applications and those selected candidates are invited to compete at the recruit boot camp which typically runs at the end of April and beginning of May.”
Of those 600 candidates, Reynolds says there are 150-180 work vacancies which will include 20-30 new hires in the Prince George Fire Centre.
And though we’ve experienced a lower than usual snowpack this winter, see previous story here, she says that’s but one factor in determining the kind of wildfire season we can expect.
“Snowpack levels are only one means of forecasting whether we will see an early or late start to the fire season,” she says. “More relevant indicators are precipitation levels and drying patterns as we move into summer.”
Last year the Prince George Fire Centre experienced an early start to the season when intense fire activity sparked April 18 in the Peace region.
In fact, Reynolds warns 60 per cent of the fires were human caused last year.
“And therefore, completely preventable and this is an especially relevant figure to reflect on at this time of the year with the spring fire season approaching as almost all fires in the spring are human caused.”
Therefore, she says it’s never too early to pay attention to the following tips.
“Anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations to reduce the number of preventable fires,” says Reynolds. “Making sure you have enough resources on hand, not burning in windy conditions and if you plan on doing a larger burn, making sure you do get a registration number which is at no cost.”
Last year the Prince George Fire Centre experienced 243 fires burning over 90,000 hectares of forest. That’s significantly less than the 339 fires burning over 200,000 hectares in 2015.