Alberta's 2024 Budget has recently been tabled, and the province has committed to invest millions in the battle against wildfires.

During a media conference on March 1st, the Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen announced that in the tabled 2024 Budget, the provincial government has committed to invest $151 million over three years to help combat wildfires.

"The first priority of Alberta's government is to do all we can to be ready for this year's wildfire season. Which is why budget 2024/25 allocated new funding to support wildfire preparedness," explained Minister Loewen.

This funding will help enhance wildfire firefighting capacities through increased resources, such as additional personnel, aircrafts, artificial intelligence, night-vision technology, and drones.

"In 2023, we piloted a number of firefighting technologies aimed at improving our responsiveness and effectiveness, and I am pleased to give many of these resources a permanent spot on our front line this wildfire season," Minister Loewen says.

Part of this new funding will go towards increasing their night vision helicopter capacity to three contracts.

That includes two medium helicopters and one heavy helicopter equipped with night vision imaging systems that help the pilots better gauge the size of the wildfire they are dealing with.

On top of that, the province currently has 18 long term helicopter contracts available to them throughout the wildfire season.

Through this budget, they will also increase their air tanker contracts from 8 to 10 and renew 130 casual helicopter contracts by the end of March.

Because of this budget, the province will continue to use drones in firefighting capacities, because of how effective they are getting real-time information while keeping people safe.

"Drones are also able to fly over areas that would be too dangerous for piloted aircraft, which helps us collect valuable data that we otherwise wouldn't have," Loewen explains.

This budget will also help to continue funding the Wildfire Occurrence Prediction System, which is an AI powered tool that helps to predict the likelihood of a wildfire starting in a new area, which helps to provide additional information to those fighting the fires.

Additionally, this money will help to fund 100 new firefighters, resulting in five more 20-person crews.

An accompanying media release states that Alberta Wildfire will continue researching and testing new developments in wildfire prevention, mitigation, smoke detection, and suppression to determine how technology can increase their response times and help extinguish wildfires; as well as exploring how to expand their air tanker fleet for future wildfire seasons.

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