News release

Wildfire Detection Changes Improve Safety, Response Time

The province is changing its wildfire detection program to improve public safety and fire response time while also better protecting firefighters.

Expanded aerial fire detection, with contracted fixed-wing airplane services, will cover much of the province by spring 2013.

"The department takes its forest fire fighting responsibilities very seriously, and we are continuously working to improve forest protection and public safety," said Charlie Parker, Minister of Natural Resources. "Using aircraft as our principal fire detection system will improve our ability to gather crucial information, and bring us in line with most other provinces across Canada."

Increased public reporting, improved cellphone communication and use of aircraft for fire detection mean fire towers are not needed as much as in the past.

Aerial detection gives better information on the size, condition and behaviour of a wildfire. It also helps keep firefighters on the ground safer by getting better information to them faster. In remote areas, 14 fire towers will continue to provide primary detection. Fire detection provided from 19 fire towers will be replaced with modern aerial fire detection next year.

Ninety per cent of all wildfires are reported by the public.

"We have one of the fastest response times in Canada and we strongly support a revised new multi-detection approach to maintain, and potentially improve, these response times," said Walter Fanning, director of forest protection.

The principal detection system in most of Canada is aircraft. Early trials in Nova Scotia have shown it is a reliable and cost-effective option.

The province's multi-detection system includes fire towers, strategic aerial patrols and public reporting through 911.


The province is improving public safety and fire response time by enhancing its wildfire detection program.

Fixed-wing airplane services will provide aerial fire detection across much of the province beginning in 2013, replacing nineteen fire towers.

Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker says aerial detection will improve the province's ability to collect crucial information and bring us in line with most other provinces.

Fourteen fire towers will continue to serve remote areas across the province.


Media Contact:

Bruce Nunn
Natural Resources 902-424-5239 Cell: 902-476-6454 E-mail: