Forestry and Agrifoods
The Director of Forest Engineering and Industry Services is responsible
for the Fire Suppression Program for the Forest Resources. Field delivery
is provided under the direction of the Regional Ecosystem Director using
infrastructure established in the regional and district offices.
Over the years, the Department has improved its capability to suppress wildfires in the Province. Changes in the way the Department handles wildfire began in 1961 after a disastrous year. Following a very dry summer, extensive areas of Eastern and Central Newfoundland were ravaged by fire. In contrast, 1981 was even dryer but in part due to the introduction of new technology such as a Lightning Detection System, computerized decision support system, the use of fire fighting foam, better training of fire staff, the purchase of six (6) CL-215 Air Tankers and new systems and procedures such as aircraft alert codes, the Province was able to limit forest fire losses to a minimum.
The Province took the lead role in forest fire management and suppression in 1975 and as a result significant purchases of new equipment, technology and aircraft was made. A modern new Provincial Forest Fire Equipment and Maintenance Facility was constructed at Gander. In 1996, a state-of-the art hose drying, testing and repair facility was opened adjacent to the Forest Protection Centre.
The Forest Service operates six (6) CL-215 Air Tankers along with a Cessna spotter. Four long ranger helicopters are on full time standby and others are hired as needed. This equipment is used for initial attack along with ground crews who are scattered throughout the Island and in Labrador in twenty-six (26) depots. Fire co-ordination is handled by a Duty Officer for each region who oversees the initial attacks and deploys equipment as required.