Province Cutting Wildfire Rappel Program

A program tasked with being the first wave of attack on remote wildfires is being scrapped by the provincial government.

The Wildland Firefighter Rappel Program is being cut by the GoA as they to ‘modernize’ their wildfire response.

The program has been around for 36 years keeping fires under control before more resources were able to tackle the remote situation.

Crews were used to fight the Horse River wildfire and more recently the fires in the High Level.

Jamie Parker, former rappel sub-leader, tells Mix News it’s likely we’ll now start to see more bigger fires.

“Without the rappel program and we can’t catch some of these really remote fires quickly, we’re going to start to see complex fires blowing up and getting out of control all over the province.”

Over 60 firefighters are being affected by the move.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen says this is about ensuring the best use of their funds.

“Firefighters rappelled into locations in less than two per cent of wildfires in Alberta. We are instead prioritizing our Helitack and Firetack crews, which were used far more often.”

However, Parker believes the province is missing the big picture.

“I think they look at it as a budgetary item but they don’t understand what costs have been saved in the past 36-years of the program being in place from us preventing wildfires.”

The GoA is planning to review the 2019 wildfire season to see what can be done to prepare and respond for next year.

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