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Urban firefighters to get additional training to also battle wildfire blazes

OTTAWA — The federal government is doubling its investment to train urban firefighters to battle wildfires — a growing threat to Canada’s cities and towns.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the government is giving $800,000 to the International Association of Fire Fighters to conduct additional training.

That’s twice the sum spent last year on 25 instructors who then trained more than 300 firefighters in Chilliwack and Kamloops, B.C, and Grand Prairie, Alta.

The impacts of climate change and population growth are combining to increase the risk that wildfires happen in or near urban areas.

Wilkinson says nearly four million Canadians — roughly one in 10 — now live in areas where combustible forests are prevalent.

In 2021 a wildfire razed the village of Lytton, B.C. and in 2023 wildfires tore through neighbourhoods in Halifax and Kelowna, B.C., and forced the evacuation of the entire city of Yellowknife.

The latest spring fire forecast suggests there could be significant risk of a repeat of last year’s record-breaking wildfire season. 

Above-average temperatures and limited rain and snow have left drought-like conditions across much of the country, with tinder-dry forests and grasslands.

The forecast is not a prediction, Wilkinson said, because precipitation levels are difficult to assess this early in the season.

But the plan is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, he added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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