Cost of Provincial Fire Fighting Services
Res #: 19-03M
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Environment
Resolution No. 19-03M
WHEREAS, there are fires within municipal boundaries that require provincial fire suppression services; and
WHEREAS, these fire suppressant services have previously been paid for by the Province; and
WHEREAS, the Province is now trying to download costs of major fires onto individual municipalities; and
WHEREAS, this cost is excessive to the specific population of each municipality; and
WHEREAS, the people in the municipality are no more responsible for such fires as compared to their neighbor in the adjoining municipality or in the towns or cities;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Provincial Government continue to pay all costs incurred in fighting fires with their equipment and resources that are beyond the resources of the urban and rural municipalities.
Response From Honorable David Forbes, Minister of Environment:
Wildfire suppression costs are the responsibility of rural municipalities (RM) where the fries start within municipal administered areas as confirmed by section 8(1) of The Prairie and Forest Fires Act, 1982. The province is responsible for wildlife suppression costs on vacant Crown land, provincial forests, provincial parks, recreation sites and burning permit areas. Saskatchewan Environment continues with cost recovery billing for providing fire suppression assistance outside of its mandated area upon request by urban and rural municipalities.
The province recognizes that catastrophic years like 2002 placed costs fir wild land fires on RMs that were unaffordable, therefore a one-year assistance program was implemented, followed by a program in 2003, which set municipal costs at 5.67 mils with a maximum cap at $300K per municipality. Government is reviewing options for the delivery of fire suppression programming in future years that will strike a balance between municipal responsibility for the funding and delivery of suppression with the role of senior government to come to the support of municipalities in extreme circumstances.
Government Relations and Saskatchewan Environment will be arranging meetings with the SARM Executive to discuss cooperative approaches that address these roles and responsibilities. In recent months, SE has been working with municipalities to build fire-fighting capacity. Building this capacity is one key to reducing overall costs. This work includes: – providing access to a SE website for fire departments to use the fire weather information to implement a preparedness system in advance of fire starts to more effectively control fires and reduce fire severity and costs; – developing and distributing a fact sheet to clarify roles and responsibilities for fire departments; – delivering an enhanced education and public awareness program that reduced human cased fires by over 30 per cent; and – planning a delivery of wildland fire fighter training during winter of 2004 through a train the trainer model in collaboration with Corrections and Public Safety (CPS).