Fire prevention efforts of forestry operations examined

VICTORIA – An investigation of fire preparedness of forestry licensees has found that major companies are complying with the Wildfire Act, but some smaller operators are taking significant risks.

The Wildfire Act requires those carrying out forest operations to be adequately prepared to put out a fire, should they accidentally start one. This includes things like having an adequate supply of water and fire tools on site, or even shutting down operations early during high fire danger periods.

“We found that most major licensees had some form of standard operating procedures for fire preparedness and monitored operations on a regular basis to ensure compliance,” said board chair Al Gorley. “However, the fire preparedness of timber sale licensees was variable.”

The investigation involved surveying and interviewing licensees in the Arrow-Boundary and 100 Mile House forest districts and visiting 34 active work sites across the province during the 2010 fire season. Eight operations were not compliant with the legislation – one major licensee, six timber sale licensees and one BCTS contractor.

In addition to looking at compliance with legislated requirements, the report also identifies best practices to provide guidance to forest licensees to enhance their fire preparedness.

A fire can accidentally start when machinery strikes a rock and causes sparks, when logging debris gets jammed in equipment and causes friction, or when operating equipment overheats or malfunctions, for example.

A person responsible for starting a fire can be subject to compliance and enforcement actions. Administrative penalties can range up to $100,000. Fire suppression costs and damages to Crown timber may also be recovered, which can add up to millions of dollars.

More information can be obtained by contacting:

Helen Davies, Communications
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4708 / 1 800 994-5899

February 18, 2011

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