The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre Inc. (CIFFC) was opened on June 2, 1982 with a mandate to provide operational forest fire management services to Member Agencies that will, by agreement, gather, analyse and disseminate fire management information to ensure a cost effective sharing of resources; and actively promote, develop, refine, standardise and provide services to Member Agencies that will improve forest fire management in Canada.
CIFFC operates as a private non-profit corporation with two levels of management which direct the operation:
(1) The Board of Directors is made up of Assistant Deputy-Ministers responsible for forestry representing each of the Provinces, Territories and Federal Government. This board is responsible for the corporate oversight of CIFFC. They set policy, approve strategic directions and fiduciary management.
(2) The Management Committee is comprised of the Directors responsible for forest fire management for each of the Provinces, Territories and representatives of the Federal Government. This group prepares budgets and policies and controls the operation and expenditures of the CIFFC.
CIFFC Personnel operate and implement programs approved by the Management Committee and the Board of Directors. In addition, the CIFFC coordinates and leads Committees, Working Groups and Teams assembled to address specific tasks.
A Modern Funding Approach
Funding for the Centre is as unique as its management systems. The Federal government contributes one-third of the CIFFC's base operating costs. The remaining two-thirds of the base costs plus one hundred percent of collaborative project costs are funded by the provinces and territories on a calculated model which considers many variables relative to the size of their program and use of external resources.
Advanced Resource Sharing
Resources in Canada are shared on a formal basis under the Canadian Interagency Mutual Aid Resources Sharing (MARS) Agreement which outlines three categories of resources: equipment, personnel and aircraft.
In addition to this intra-Canadian co-operative agreement, a Diplomatic Note signed with the United States authorises the sharing of resources for fire suppression across the international boundary. The Canada/United States Reciprocal Forest Fire Fighting Arrangement (CANUS) combined with several other exemptions allows for quick movement of resources across the international border -- essential during an escalated fire season.
Both of these documents lay out the terms under which resources can be legally shared, how resources will be made available, what costs will be involved and the conditions for their return.
In addition to co-operating with the United States, the CIFFC and its member agencies have arrangements with Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. Requests for assistance from and to other countries are negotiated on an as-and-when needed basis. The CIFFC also maintains membership with international organizations such as the North American Forestry Commission and the Global Fire Monitoring Centre.
The Hot, Dry Season
During the fire season, CIFFC operates seven days a week. An integral part of its operation is the "situation report" which provides information and intelligence on the fire situation to all member agencies. CIFFC also identifies available resources moving to and from participating agencies including aircraft, personnel, equipment and speciality items.
The CIFFC Coordination Centre maintains daily contact with the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) in Boise Idaho and through the Canada/United States Reciprocal Forest Fire Fighting Arrangement, exchanges resources as needed across the international boundary.
In recent years and more frequently, the CIFFC is required to maintain regular contact with other international partners throughout the season.
Canadian Protection, International Attention
CIFFC has attracted international attention and delegations from various developing nations regularly visit the Centre to review its operations. Through various departments of the Government of Canada, the CIFFC has coordinated Canadian response to international requests for assistance. Such requests for international assistance will continue and the Fire Centre, along with member agencies and Canadian corporations will be organized to address these requests.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre will continue to be front and centre in forest fire management by helping our neighbours around the world.
The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers originally directed CIFFC to promote and improve fire management on a national level. The Centre continues to meet this challenge through its agreements and the development of standards and collaborative projects through various Working Groups.
Internationally, CIFFC will continue to promote Canadian fire management technology in the global market place.
These programs, in concert with existing fire management programs, will all contribute to a better organization and a more efficient fire management system for Canada.