The final bill for 2022 wildfire suppression efforts in the Prince George Fire Centre came in at 28 million dollars.
That’s down from the 35 million dollars that were spent in 2021.
Fire Information Officer, Sharon Nickel told Vista Radio the drop is a direct result of fewer blazes being ignited.
“We had 247 fires in the Prince George Fire Centre for the 2022 season and that’s down from the 274 fires in 2021. With regards to the fires this year, we did have about 66% of those were lighting-caused while 33% were human-caused.”
“The important takeaway is that human-caused fires are preventable. They are everything but a lightning-caused fire and we really should be working to bring that down to as close to zero as possible. But, mitigating wildfire risk is a shared responsibility,” added Nickel.
During the 2022 provincial budget, it was announced that the BC Wildfire Service would be going to a year-round operating model.
When asked if it is helping prepare for future wildfire seasons, Nickel stated there are 100 positions being converted to full-time status.
“So that is kind of the uplift that we are seeing staffing-wise. It is important to note that we continue to work year-round, it’s just the bulk of our staff being the crews that you see are those seasonal folks. There is a staffing uplift with that but there will also be new positions created.”
In Budget 2022 there was an investment of $359 million dollars – $145 million of that will be spent towards strengthening the wildfire service and emergency management and climate readiness over the span of three years.
“The commitment with those investments allows us to transition to a more full year-round operation and put an emphasis on all four pillars of emergency management.”
“It also increases our capacity to strengthen the relationships with first nations governments, local governments, and also provincial stakeholders so that we can co-develop wildfire mitigation and preparedness strategies,” added Nickel.
The total area burned in the PGFC last year was approximately 59-thousand hectares.