Wildland fire season: Ontario brings new equipment for firefighting staff

Government offering payment incentive for fire rangers and critical support staff

Wildland fire season: Ontario brings new equipment for firefighting staff

Wildland fire season has officially started in Ontario and the provincial government is looking to equip firefighters with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely.

Ontario has purchased new equipment to help manage forest fires.

“Throughout the fire season, Ontario’s firefighting staff work tirelessly – under very difficult conditions – to keep people, communities and property safe,” said Graydon Smith, minister of natural resources and forestry. “The start of the fire season is an important time to recognize how important these fire crews are and the brave work they perform to keep the public safe.”

Ontario previously invested $20.5 million to be used over three years to enhance aerial technologies and help increase understanding of evolving fire science and behaviour.

Incentive payment for firefighting staff

The provincial government is also offering a payment incentive for fire rangers and critical support staff this season in recognition “of the critical services wildland firefighters and pilots perform amid challenging and often dangerous conditions,” said the government.

Employees in front-line fire, aviation and critical support positions will receive up to $5,000 attraction and retention incentive payment in the 2024 fire season.

Ontario is also creating more than 100 permanent firefighting positions to meet the demands of the fire season. These positions include new year-round positions that will support career path opportunities for fire rangers and other staff, said the government.

“The government is strengthening emergency preparedness and response by ensuring communities across the province have the resources and equipment they need to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies,” said Caroline Mulroney, president of the Treasury Board and minister responsible for emergency management.

“We are working closely with municipalities, First Nations communities and partners to ensure the people of Ontario are safe, practiced and prepared for the upcoming wildland fire season.”

Last year’s wildland fire season, Ontario expanded eligibility for standby pay and reimbursed eligible expenses for training and special safety equipment for firefighting staff.

More than 700 wildland fires were reported in Ontario last year, with over 440,000 hectares of forests burned – nearly triple the 10-year average of total hectares burned on the landscape. 

About half of all wildland fires are caused by humans, said the Ontario government.