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As part of our commitment to protect public safety and the environment, the BC Energy Regulator (BCER) hosted a post-season wildfire roundtable with the goal to understand the impacts of the 2023 fire season on participants, to look at key actions undertaken and to identify best practices for future years.

DATE ISSUED: June 5, 2024


The 2023 wildfire season was unprecedented and created challenges across the province, testing agencies, authorities, companies and individuals. No part of British Columbia was spared from the impacts of the fires, from smoke to evacuations. This provided an opportunity for agencies to gather on Nov. 2, 2023 and reflect on successes and areas for improvement to help prepare for future wildfire season challenges.

Throughout the 2023 wildfire season, the BCER and other agencies maintained a high level of engagement, supporting the safety of both industry and Wildfire Service field staff with multiple coordination calls, exchange of contacts and other information, direct support with links to resources and a widespread commitment to review and improve where possible for the 2024 fire season and beyond. Some of the best practices and recommendations captured in this report will be helpful in response to any significant and sustained incident response that involves multiple parties, including industry, agencies and communities.

During the roundtable discussions, recommendations for five key topic areas were suggested. These can be summarized as:

  1. Geographic Information Systems: Essential need to improve information sharing, simplify or better identify which mapping coordinate system is in use and ensure reliability of the services.
  2. Evacuation and Re-entry Processes: Improved process needed to ensure requests for access to critical infrastructure can be prioritized, better tracking of persons entering and exiting an evacuation zone and faster response to requests to allow for early morning access.
  3. Communications: Pre-fire season sharing of critical contacts across agencies and companies, including creation of multiple contacts and contact methods, check-in procedures for persons in evacuation order areas and better reporting process for site evacuations.
  4. Preparedness: Improvements to emergency plans to include wildfires, staff evacuation procedures and improvements to site fire resilience including structural protection.
  5. Safety: A stronger focus on pre-season training, refreshing awareness of tools and procedures was emphasized as an important contributor to the overall safety of both the responder community and those who work in proximity to seasonal and industry risks.

More details on these recommendations can be found within the report. Since the roundtable took place, improvements are underway. For example, the BCER is working with other agencies to improve the tracking of hazardous products and firefighting water sources on energy sites, as well as providing updates to the Firesmart guide for industry. The BCER has also updated its all-hazards mapping tool in recent months.

The BCER would like to thank the following organizations for their participation in the roundtable and assistance in producing this report: BC Wildfire Service, Peace River Regional District, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, Energy Safety Canada, members of the Aboriginal Liaison Program and the many industry participants.

If you have any questions regarding this Information Update or the report, please contact:

Peter Dalton
Director, Security & Emergency Management
BC Energy Regulator