Opportunities for Improvement

Opportunities for improvement are made where ideas and suggestions have been recorded or developed that would allow for some degree of enhancement in the program, in keeping with the Department's objective of continuous improvement.

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Opportunity 1: The process for accessing infrared technology should be streamlined to ensure it is readily available for operations by May 1 annually. This should include the following being in place:

  • Long term contracts;
  • Standards for products; and
  • Explicit procedures for requesting the resource and deployment onto incidents when requested.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Infrared scanning providers on standby as a new business practice

Fully met the intent of the recommendation. Ongoing implementation.

In progress

Opportunity 2: The Office of the Fire Commissioner, Agriculture and Forestry and municipalities should continue work to expand the use of sprinkler systems to protect buildings at the Wildland Urban Interface. This work includes investment in equipment, training, and procedures for unified operations among wildland and urban firefighters. Municipal fire departments should utilize specialized teams and equipment that can be deployed by the province to assist them in structural protection.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry is continues to support the implementation of the structural protection program including the deployment of specialized firefighters and equipment specific to wildland urban interface fires.
  • The Department provides Wildfire Crew Member and Leader training to the Structure Protection Units.

Opportunity 3: Agriculture and Forestry should review its standards and procedures for contract aircraft fueling and ensure vendors comply.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Revised Standard Operating Procedures on refueling procedures.
  • Audit of vendors when deployed on wildfires.
  • Ongoing reviews of aircraft fueling and vendor compliance.

Opportunity 4: Review and improve mapping processes and geographic description systems to better guide airtanker activity when working in close proximity to city limits.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry is continuing to collaborate with partnering agencies, Ministries and municipalities on mapping resources.
  • Standardized mapping products and geographical references (fire grid systems).

Fully met the intent of the recommendation. Ongoing implementation.

In progress

Opportunity 5: Leverage the experience gained from the Horse River wildfire and the 2011 Flat Top Complex wildfires by having Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Emergency Management Agency jointly lead the development and delivery of a comprehensive exercise involving all the major players in Alberta that have responsibilities during a Wildland Urban Interface event. This exercise should be delivered across Alberta to test their respective organizations and systems to help inform communities who haven’t had the experience firsthand. At the same time this exercise would provide for continuous improvement and practice of current protocols and systems in place.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Emergency Management Exercise for 2018, as led by Alberta Emergency Management Agency, will be a simulation of a wildfire event.
  • Agriculture and Forestry is continuing to work with and support Alberta Emergency Management Agency on Provincial exercises.

Opportunity 6: Recent reorganizations across government have seen the centralization of administrative support to Agriculture and Forestry. The 2016 wildfire season tested this new structure and some key learnings have been identified. A review of this form of service delivery with emphasis on ensuring established commitment levels of service should be carried out.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Partnering with Environment and Parks through a Service Level Agreement to implement regional business services related to wildfire management.
  • The agreement is reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure issues are addressed, the needs of the wildfire management program are met, and efficiencies are realized.

Opportunity 7: The provincial 310-FIRE reporting line was overwhelmed by the call volume due to the Horse River wildfire. The reporting line’s capacity, technology and systems should be reviewed in light of this incident to look at specific areas for improvement.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry wildfire management staff have had discussions with Service Alberta to improve the service for 310-FIRE line.
  • Scoped technical requirements for recording of calls for investigations and information purposes as part of phone system upgrade.

Opportunity 8: To prepare for the future, incident leadership should exercise scenarios where the team is required to move and rely on transient communications and alternative means of communications.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry’s Wildfire Telecomms unit is partnering with Service Alberta on construction and maintenance of Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) in the Forest Protection Area.

Opportunity 9: After Action Reviews should be carried out at the local level immediately after operations and after staff have had time to decompress from their experiences. For example, initial attack crews first on the scene, duty room staff, or those involved in observations from the scene carry a sense of responsibility for outcomes when they leave the workplace. There are two primary objectives for these After Action Reviews and debriefings. First, capture the learnings from the experience for future improvements and team-building at the local level. Second, assist staff to make sense of what they have experienced, their role in making a difference, and to heal where events have been traumatic.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry has formalized Critical Incident Peer Support process to assist in addressing the need for staff to understand and manage significant events.
  • After action reviews are part of Agriculture and Forestry’s wildfire management Business Rules and Standard Operating Procedures.

Opportunity 10: Agriculture and Forestry should position itself to take full advantage of existing and emerging technology to help with situational awareness especially during times where smoke is a major issue. Agriculture and Forestry should explore measures to encourage prompt and increased use of technologies such as satellite and high level infrared scanning. This should include a coordinated pre-organized contracting approach to streamline access at the operational levels.

Highlights of Implementation

  • Agriculture and Forestry’s wildfire management program is committed to continual improvement, integration of emerging technologies into operations with consideration for contracting satellite providers and availability of operators.

Opportunity 11: Provide for a common radio frequency to be installed in all Agriculture and Forestry and local fire department radios for exclusive use across Alberta for wildfire operations and in response to wildland urban interface wildfires.

Highlights of Implementation

  • All fire centres have capability for interoperability with FIRENET and AFRCS radio system. During a mutual aide event interoperability gateways will be deployed.

Fully met the intent of the recommendation. Ongoing implementation.

In progress


Updated: Apr 13, 2021