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NEWS RELEASE · 15th April 2010
M. of Forest and Range
Government's review of the 2009 fire season supports continuous improvement of wildfire management in British Columbia and reinforces the key role prevention plays in protecting people and property, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced today.

"This report is a timely reminder of why British Columbians must remain vigilant in helping prevent wildfires heading into the 2010 fire season," said Bell. "More than 850 fires in 2009 were likely person-caused. Government is doing everything possible to protect communities and forest assets, but we need people's co-operation to reduce the number of preventable fires."

The 2009 fire season included 3,409 fires, 213 of which were in interface zones, leading to 27 evacuation orders, nine evacuation alerts and a record wildfire aircraft flying time of over 53,500 hours.

Annual reviews are an integral part of every fire season, helping identify what processes worked and where there may beroom for improvement. The 2009 review helped verify that the current strategic direction for the Wildfire Management Branch is on the right track and the processes in place contributed to a successful outcome.

The review did not detect any particular area of major concern but did identify a wide range of items as opportunities for continuous improvement, many of which have been acted on or underway.

Examples include:

* Completing the provincial wildfire coordination centre move to Kamloops.
* Reviewing and implementing a new policy framework for fire restrictions, specifically campfire restrictions, to enhance simplicity, clarity and risk reduction.
* Expanding compliance and enforcement's role in fire investigations and patrols.
* Streamlining information tracking needs.
* Develop a more comprehensive quality assurance program for all levels of operations.
* Completing the dispatch services review.
* Continuing with aviation strategic plan initiatives that improve cost effectiveness.

Identified successes evident during the 2009 season include:

* Greatly improved partnerships and working relationships among key players.
* Acquisition and management of structure protection units across the province.
* Improved information flow between fire command and the public.
* Effective allocation of resources through priority setting.
* Continued implementation of a comprehensive fuel management program that reduces risk to communities and assets.

The 2009 fire season review was completed by the Wildfire Management Branch with input from other branches of the Ministry of Forests and Range, provincial and federal ministries, local governments, partners, clients and the public.

Complete copies are available online at
www.bcwildifre.caHistoryReportsAndReviews.