DRYDEN, ON --- April 12, 2012 --- Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle was in Dryden on Tuesday, April 10 to visit the Northwest Region Forest Fire Management Centre as the forest fire season in the province officially begins.
Gravelle met with some of the highly-trained FireRangers and support staff who will fight forest fires across the North between April and October.
“We have a remarkable emergency management team here, protecting people and property across the region,” he said. “These folks work tirelessly in conditions most of us can barely imagine. And even last year, which was one of the worst fire seasons in half a century, they also lent their support to other provinces.”
Minister exiting a CL-415 water bomber with Carl Hansson, Senior Pilot
Staff at the Northwest Region Forest Fire Management Centre plan strategy and bring together information on forest fires such as the current and forecasted weather conditions and predicted fire behaviour. They also position aircraft, personnel and equipment to meet the fire activity.
“The Dryden facility is an impressive operation – the hub of the Northwest Region coordination of emergency operations,” Gravelle said.
Gravelle visited a base camp of mobile trailers that can house a command and communications centre, cooking facilities, sleeping quarters, and other support facilities. These trailers are driven into remote sites and set up near large fires and become the home for up to 300 people working on a large fire.
Ministry staff showed the Minister their newest firefighting equipment – A Wildland Fire Response Engine delivered just last week. The tanker truck is part of a purchase of six built by Holland Enterprises, a Kakabeka Falls company. They can deliver FireRangers to a fire with a tank of water and enough equipment to effectively suppress a fire. The new tanker trucks are often used to support municipal firefighters with spring grass and brush fires.
The Minister also toured the Aviation Hanger, home to the helicopters and airplanes the ministry uses in forest fire management and emergency response. Among the planes in the hangar was the CL-415 heavy water bomber, the only aircraft in the world specifically designed to fight forest fires.
The ministry’s forest firefighting program has $25 million worth of fire suppression equipment, 14 water bombers, 13 helicopters and 12 fire detection aircraft.
“We’re well prepared for fire season,” Gravelle said. “But it’s important to note that half of all forest fires are started by people, so Ontarians can do their part by exercising the greatest of care when using fire outdoors.”