Fire Fighting in Canada

Uncategorized Emergency Management
B.C. opens new wildfire training and education centre

April 15, 2024 
By Avert Magazine


A new dedicated wildfire training and education centre at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) will welcome the province’s future wildfire fighters.

The B.C. wildfire training and education centre is a first-of-its-kind program and is a flagship action stemming from recommendations from the Premier’s Task Force on Emergencies.

“Last summer, British Columbians endured the worst wildfire season our province has ever seen, and we only got through it thanks to the heroic efforts of our brave firefighters,” said Premier David Eby. “Our government is taking action to ensure we are better prepared for future climate emergencies, and that starts by developing and supporting our teams of first responders. By establishing the first-of-its-kind wildfire training and education centre in North America, we are preparing our future wildfire professionals for the critical work of protecting our forests, our communities and our families in a rapidly changing climate.”

The centre, the first in North America to transition wildfire training into degree programs and research, will offer comprehensive wildfire training and education programs that progress from basic skills training and learning in the wildfire field, to the future development of wildfire academic diploma and degree programs in wildfire and emergency management disciplines.

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Program design will start this year with intakes for program training beginning in 2025 in existing facilities. There are plans also underway to develop a state-of-the-art training facility and building.

“Last year was the most devastating wildfire season on record, and it’s clear we need to do more to keep people safe from the impacts of climate change,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Forests. “We have some of the most skilled, professional and dedicated teams of wildland firefighters in the world. Through this first-of-its-kind centre in North America, we are taking action to grow our local contingent of wildland firefighters, provide them with cutting-edge science and technology, and support their long-term career development in B.C.”

The new centre, delivered in partnership with TRU and the Ministry of Forests’ BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), will enhance the training capacity at BCWS. In addition, BCWS will transition some of its existing training programs and courses into the centre’s new curriculum. By 2028-29, more than 1,000 workshops will be offered per year, which will translate into 10,000 course registrations.

This will complement the TRU Institute for Wildfire Science, Adaptation and Resiliency dedicated to research and innovation, which opened in October 2023. Both the new institute and B.C. wildfire training and education centre are building on an existing fire science lab and provincially funded Innovation Research Chair to form a world-class Wildfire Learning, Research and Innovation District at TRU.

“Being part of a broader, collaborative effort with the BC Wildfire Service is a great honour and we look forward to working side by side on initiatives that contribute to building a safer, more resilient future for our communities,” said Brett Fairbairn, president and vice-chancellor of TRU. “This partnership reinforces TRU’s commitment to leading world-class research, training and innovation to improve how British Columbians adapt to living with wildfires.”

The program will initially be funded through enhanced BCWS training resources, first introduced in Budget 2022.

B.C.’s wildfire training and education centre is a core recommendation coming from the Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies. Launched in fall 2023, the task force has worked for six months to put together 31 recommendations focusing on key themes:

  • enhancing the use of predictive fire technology;
  • expanding wildfire training and prevention programs;
  • strengthening local response co-ordination (including with local and municipal fire departments); and
  • supporting people with timely and accessible information about evacuation orders and alerts.

The task force met with more than 60 emergency management specialists, First Nations, and key partners that were affected by emergency events, and with other groups that offered to share their perspectives.

“This partnership and program will be the first of its kind in North America,” said Thom Porter, retired deputy director of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and member of Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies. “The forest landscape that our children, grandchildren and future generations see will be vastly different than what we experience today. It is our responsibility to provide them with the tools to help them meet the challenges they will face and succeed in the future.”


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