Forestry and Agrifoods
The Director of Forest Engineering and Industry Services is responsible
for the Fire Suppression Program. Field delivery
is provided under the direction of the Regional Ecosystem Director using
infrastructure established in 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 handled wildfire occured after a disastrous fire season in 1961 when extensive areas of Eastern and Central Newfoundland were ravaged by fire. The Province took the lead role in forest fire management and suppression in 1975 and as a result made significant investments in new equipment, technology and aircraft. In contrast, although 1981 was even dryer, 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 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.
Finally, a modern Provincial Forest Fire Equipment and Maintenance Facility was constructed at Gander and in 1996, a state-of-the art hose drying, testing and repair facility was opened adjacent to the Forest Protection Centre.
For initial attack and suppression of forest fires, the Province has five CL-415 Air Tankers operated by Air Services. Helicopters are also used in initial attack and for rapid movement of fire personnel. Ground crews and equipment are located at 24 depots across the Island and in Labrador and are also used for inital attack and for sustained suppression. Duty officers work with Air Services and District personelle to deploy equipment and resources required to suppress wildfires.