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Raising wildfire risk awareness; tech fills Emergency Coordinator shortage

May 14, 2024

Wildfire risk is predicted to be above average in Canada this year, according to the North American Seasonal Fire Assessment and Outlook, issued 13 May 2024. Natural Resources Canada cites the persistence of widespread drought.

As local communities brace for another potentially devastating wildfire season, Matteo Cimaellaro of Canada’s National Observer has highlighted a critical gap in preparedness. Emergency coordinators are missing in wildfire-prone communities across Canada, especially among First Nations.

The absence of this dedicated role can slow response and significantly hinder recovery.

Last month, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu pledged federal funding for emergency coordinators in 48 First Nations communities in the province of Alberta. However, little to no allocation for counterparts in British Columbia was noted.

The importance of proactive disaster management was the key lesson learned from the 2023 wildfire season, in which 6,551 fires burned a record-breaking 45 million acres across Canada.

Emergency program coordinators are pivotal role in securing funding, training and equipment in addition to organizing response efforts to preserve cultural artifacts and protect essential infrastructure.

Despite the shortage of personnel, enhancements to infrastructure and cooperation among local and provincial water, weather and environmental monitoring organizations can help alert communities facing elevated fire weather danger.

KISTERS software offers fire weather index with map-based reports and alerts to help monitor risks. Advanced data analytics and forecasting capabilities equip forestry, natural resources and emergency management professionals with decision-support. Then can identify opportunities for controlled burn of fire fuels and designate fire lines to contain active fires.

Confronting climate challenges of drought, flooding and wildfires will require proactive measures. By investing in both human resources, such as emergency coordinators, and proven technology like the KISTERS environmental data software, communities can build resilience and safeguard communities for generations to come.