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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd June 2010
Ministry of Forest and Range
British Columbia is training an additional 25 origin and cause wildland fire investigators, for a new total of 65, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell said today.

"The Province is actively ramping up its enforcement efforts," said Bell. "Not only are we increasing the number of wildfire investigators, we will be increasing the number of campfire patrols as we move into summer. Check for any bans before lighting a campfire - otherwise you could end up with a $345 ticket - and remember we will be exercising zero tolerance."

The week-long training session in Merritt consists of practical evaluations, classroom work, 36 hours of field exercises and a final written exam. Ministry of Forests and Range compliance and enforcement officers will learn to track fire origins from a variety of sources, including cigarettes, lightning and sparks from off-road vehicles. They will also gain knowledge of wildfire behaviour, burn indicators and how to undertake complex investigations, like those that deal with arson.

The course meets both national and international standards for wildland fire investigator certification and was developed by an international fire investigation working team, of which the Ministry of Forests and Range is a partner. Other members include wildfire agencies in Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

Fire origin and cause investigations are conducted by Forest Service compliance and enforcement officers who work collaboratively with staff from the Wildfire Management Branch. Last year, 219 fire-related investigations were completed, resulting in 170 Wildfire Act and Regulation violation tickets. Investigations may also lead to administrative hearings, prosecution and monetary penalties of up to $1 million.

Since April 1, provincial fire crews have responded to more than 240 fires across British Columbia, the majority of which were human-caused. Please continue to report smoke and flames by calling *5555 on mobile phones or 1 800 663-5555.