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Key Findings

  • The RMWB has an established Training and Exercising Plan for emergency management. In alignment with this Plan, the RMWB completed the Boreal BLAST full scale exercise in 2016, prior to the Wildfire, including the completion of an After Action Report noting areas for improvement, timelines and assigning responsibility for completion of action items.
  • The RMWB’s Municipal Emergency Management Plan is more robust than the guidelines provided through the provincial Community Emergency Management Plan, and has started to meet some aspects of the Canadian Standards Association’s Z1600-14 Emergency and Continuity Management Program.
  • The Regional Emergency Operations Centre was activated and functioned according to plan on May 1 and 2. Key positions were filled, and the safety of residents was maintained as the threat of the Wildfire approached the community.
  • While timeliness of the May 3 mandatory evacuation was an issue, a positive evacuation outcome was achieved through the evacuation of over 88,000 residents. The evacuation included the successful use of contraflow lanes to evacuate the community.
  • The Rapid Damage Assessment tool and process was an efficient and effective means to assess damaged properties and communicate to residents the extent of damage before they returned to the community.
  • Since the Wildfire, some changes to governance structures for emergency management have occurred, including changes to reporting lines of the Fire Chief directly to the Chief Administrative Officer.
  • Since the Wildfire, there has been a focus on relationship building and collaboration to maintain effective working relationships between the RMWB, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and other key stakeholders to promote effective integration of incident command when the need arises.
  • The RMWB’s 2016 Wildfire Recovery Plan was built on a robust recovery framework that drew from several leading practices and encouraged building community resilience and building back better.
  • The RMWB recently completed enhancements to its Municipal Emergency Management Program (including updates to the Framework through the Municipal Emergency Management Program Overview prepared in May 2017). Additional focus was placed on activities that will contribute to increased disaster resilience.
  • Three year planning for FireSmart within the RMWB indicates that activities are set to begin in 2017 and will total $14 million (including $10.5 million from the Government of Alberta and $3.853 million from the Canadian Red Cross). These activities will take place across the RMWB and enhance the program across all seven disciplines of FireSmart (education, vegetation management, legislation and planning, development considerations, interagency cooperation, emergency planning and cross training). Program enhancements will include the adoption of the Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System by the RMWB and select partners in emergency management.