The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) will receive close to $1.5 million in federal funding to support the standardization of first response teams, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough announced Tuesday afternoon.
“This project will provide the tools and training our search and rescue agencies need to better work together when they respond to fires anywhere in Canada,” Qualtrough said, speaking on behalf of Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale.
The CIFFC is responsible for coordinating wildland fire-control services for all of the provinces, territories and the federal fire management agencies. It also often coordinates the sharing of resources with the United States and other countries.
The CIFFC’s one-time funding will come out of the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund, and go towards the development of a national database for tracking Incident Command System (ICS) Canada-certified instructors and create a standardized catalogue of ICS reporting forms, as well as implementing a standardized curriculum and training program.
The goal, CIFFC executive director Kim Connors said, is to create a system where first responders can have a “common language.”
“By adopting this Canadian Incident Command System, first responders can safely and seamlessly work collaboratively together in emergency, under a common system, using common language,” Connors said.
It will also allow Canadian first responders to work with their counterparts around the world.
This year, B.C. saw its worst wildfire season on record, with close to 9,000 square kilometres burned across the province. Firefighters from the United States, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia came to help battle the blaze during the summer.
“Ultimately, the greater use of a common ICS Canada-based search and rescue approach across disciplinary and jurisdictional lines will mean a stronger, more unified and more successful response to future emergencies, including wildfires,” Qualtrough said.