One-third of all wildfires are reported by passersby.
Prince George Fire Centre
The Prince George Fire Centre is located within the largest forest region in the province, an area totaling 31.8 million hectares. The Prince George Forest Region, covering the central and northeast portion of the province, is more than ten times the size of Vancouver Island. The richness and diversity of the region's landscape is illustrated by its boundaries which cover the northern part of the Interior Plateau, the Omenica Mountains to the north, sections of the Rocky Mountain Trench and the Peace Liard country to the east, and part of the Cariboo Range to the south.
The geographic diversity of the region poses unique challenges when it comes to fire fighting. However, the Prince George Fire Centre has excellent resources with which to combat the often rugged and remote terrain. Close to one hundred firefighters, comprised of sixty initial attack crew members, twenty unit crew members, and fourteen Parattack crewmembers are located in the Prince George region. In addition, there are twenty seasonal protection assistants. They are stationed in Chetwynd, Fort Nelson, Fort St. James, Fort St. John, Mackenzie, Prince George, Valemount, and Vanderhoof.
The major forest ecosystems in the region are boreal white and black spruce, Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir, Interior cedar-hemlock, and sub-boreal spruce zones. Between 1986 and 2000, the average number of fires per year in the ecosystems was 448. Thanks to devices like the Lightning Locations System, wildfires can be detected quickly providing for fast initial attack. In the Prince George Region, lightning locators can be found at Valemount, McBride, Fort Nelson, Attick Creek, Dawson Creek, and Windy Point.
The Prince George Fire Centre relies on a number of tools for fast and accurate detection of wildfires. The region has twenty lookouts which are staffed during periods of high fire danger. Air and ground patrols provide comprehensive detection coverage in all areas hit by lightning and remote areas in high fire danger settings. There are 68 fire wardens in the Prince George region who also detect fires on an "as-needed" basis and are equipped to respond to fires. The public are an important part of fire detection as one-third of all wildfires are reported by passersby.
A valuable information tool is the weather station. The Prince George Region has 47 weather stations. Seventeen of the stations operate on meteor burst technology which is a method of collecting weather data using ionized meteor trails in the earth's atmosphere.
There are several large communities within the region, including Prince George, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Mackenzie, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Fort Nelson.