Ontario Bolsters Wildland Firefighting Efforts with Additional Staff and New Equipment

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Wildfire Season - Waterbomber

TORONTO – NEWS – As Ontario’s wildland fire season kicked off on April 1st, the provincial government has unveiled a comprehensive plan to strengthen its firefighting capabilities.

Recognizing the vital role of firefighting staff in safeguarding communities, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, led by Minister Graydon Smith, has announced significant additions to the province’s firefighting workforce, alongside a series of initiatives aimed at enhancing emergency preparedness and response across Ontario.

New Firefighting Positions Announced

In response to the increasing complexity of fire seasons, Ontario is creating over 100 permanent positions within its wildland fire program. This expansion is part of a strategic effort to build leadership and bolster the experience of firefighting teams.

“These new year-round positions are crucial for enhancing our wildland fire management capabilities and offering career advancement opportunities for our dedicated fire rangers and support staff,” stated Minister Smith.

Incentive Payments for Fire Rangers

To attract and retain the skilled professionals needed for this demanding work, the government is introducing an attraction and retention incentive payment. Front-line fire, aviation, and critical support personnel are eligible for up to $5,000 to support their roles in the 2024 fire season.

This initiative underscores the province’s commitment to recognizing the invaluable service of wildland firefighters and support staff who face challenging and hazardous conditions to protect Ontario’s communities and natural resources.

Investment in Aerial Technologies and Fire Science

Following one of the most challenging wildland fire seasons in Ontario’s history, the government is also focusing on enhancing the understanding of fire behavior and improving aerial firefighting capabilities.

With a $20.5 million investment spread over three years, Ontario aims to advance aerial technologies and fire science research. This investment is part of a broader strategy to ensure that firefighting teams are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to manage complex fire scenarios effectively.

Caroline Mulroney, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Emergency Management, emphasized the importance of collaboration in enhancing the province’s preparedness for natural disasters. “By working closely with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and other partners, we are ensuring that Ontario is ready to face the challenges of the wildland fire season with confidence,” Mulroney stated.

The province’s efforts to strengthen its wildland firefighting capabilities include expanding eligibility for standby pay, reimbursing training and safety equipment expenses, and fostering cooperation with partners to share personnel, equipment, and aircraft as needed.

Quick Facts

  • Human activities cause approximately 50% of all wildland fires.
  • Over 700 wildland fires were reported in Ontario last year, burning over 440,000 hectares of forest.
  • Ontario’s internationally recognized wildland fire management resources include a highly trained staff, a specialized aircraft fleet, and extensive firefighting and logistical infrastructure.
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