COVID-19 and the 2020 wildfire season
The Department of Environment & Natural Resources (ENR) has been planning and preparing for the 2020 wildfire season, taking into account the challenges of the current COVID-19 situation.
The Minister of Health and Social Services and Chief Public Health Officer have both stressed the importance of physical distancing and reducing group sizes to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.
New measures are being developed for our wildfire operations to protect the health and safety of our fire crews and communities.
Adjustments are being made to training, briefings, camp operations and airtanker base protocols to limit group sizes and potential exposure. Protocols for frequent cleaning and sanitization of surfaces, and response procedures in the event of an exposure, are also being developed.
Limiting the number of human-caused fires that NWT fire crews must respond to, and reducing exposure between crew members and the public, is critical to ensure the health and safety of all northerners.
NWT wildfire operations
The boreal forest is one of the North’s most valuable natural resources. Its animals and plants have sustained Indigenous people for thousands of years.
Under the right weather and forest fuel moisture conditions, forests in the Northwest Territories (NWT) support high-intensity wildfires that are virtually unstoppable. These fires are often naturally occurring with the potential to spread quickly over great distances and to place people and community infrastructure at risk.
The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is responsible for wildfire management, prevention and protection in the NWT.
Managing wildfire is important for protecting the ecological integrity and economic potential of the boreal forest.
The NWT wildfire season begins May 1st and ends September 30th. During this time, fires can start, spread, and cause risk to human life, property and important natural and cultural resources.