Wildfire Response in PEI

Forest fires in PEI fall under the jurisdiction and authority of Environment, Energy and Climate Action – Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division.

Forest fire risk

Each year, Canada continually sees frequent and severe forest fires, becoming increasingly susceptible to their effects. 

Although major wildfires  rarely occur on Prince Edward Island, they are known to happen. These past fires are typically low in danger thanks to provincial fire suppression and are not known to cause any major damage to our forests. PEI now faces increasing forest fire risk due to a changing climate. The province continues to be proactive in protecting the Island from forest fires and preparing to respond to forest fires. Nationally, Canadians are learning to live with wildfire risks and working to create fire resilient landscape. 

In 2023, PEI saw 8 small wildfires. All these fires were under 3 hectares, affecting 7.9 hectares of the forests across the Island. Each fire was contained within a day. In the wildfires, no major damage was reported. Additionally, no structures were lost, and no injuries or deaths were reported. 

For daily updates on fire weather status visit Fire Restrictions 

Wildland fire fighters

The Government of Prince Edward Island has more than 55 staff trained in wildland firefighting, many of which are employed within the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division. Our trained wildland firefighters are foresters, forest technicians, wildlife technicians, and others who have fire as part of their duties.  Staff with fire as part of their duties work normal hours unless on call or responding to fire. There are no contractor firefighters on PEI. 

Retention of wildland firefighting staff is extremely high. However, the province is increasing the number of people employed within government that have wildland fire training. Training sessions were offered for those working for provincial staff, particularly ones who already volunteer with one of our many volunteer fire departments across the Island.

We maintain mutual aid agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories (administered through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre) and are an active member in the North Eastern Forest Fire Protection Compact with many US states. These agreements provide us access to mutual aid when we require it.

PEI was able to send wildland fire fighters to other areas of the country in spring and summer of 2023 that dealt with ongoing wildfires (ie Nova Scotia and Alberta), as the province has done in the past years. 

Wildland fire-fighting equipment

The province continues to be in a good position to respond to fire inside or outside of provincial borders, through continually building our wildland fire fighting capacity and resources.

In recent years, PEI has invested heavily in the replacement of our forest fire fleet . The wildland fire program has specialized off-road equipment that allows for firefighters to access inaccessible areas. Additionally, there are five wildland fire trucks stationed across PEI at volunteer fire departments. These vehicles are fully equipped with wildland fire hose and tools and are deployed quickly when needed. The province has equipment caches across PEI to support any active fire operation.    

The province’s budget includes plans for five new vehicles related to forest fire response, along with updated forestry satellite imagery and expanding our system of weather stations to help us predict fire risk.

The province is also helping volunteer fire departments with equipment and training. The province has purchased extra wildland fire fighting equipment, working with the provincial Fire Marshal’s Office and the PEI Fire School to distribute equipment to volunteer fire departments. This included forestry hose (which is different than hose used for structure fire hose), forestry nozzles and attachments, backpack sprayers, and personal protective equipment. 

PEI does not have any air operations or water bombers. However, we maintain mutual aid agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories (administered through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre) and are an active member in the North Eastern Forest Fire Protection Compact with many US states. These agreements provide us access to mutual aid when we require it, contingent on availability. Historically, wildland fire on Prince Edward Island are able to be operated through ground-based operations. In the few isolated instances where air operations were required, mutual aid agreements allowed for aircraft to be imported quickly.

Reducing forest fire risk – provincial efforts

After Hurricane Fiona, the province began assessing forest fire risks on public lands and is working to clean-up areas that present the most risk.

Forestry officials are at work cleaning up downed trees on Public land and using FireSmart techniques to mitigate risk against any high-risk infrastructure like homes.

The province’s $550,000 forest fire prevention fund includes money for more forest fire training to build wildland firefighting capacity.

The province is purchasing and distributing fire fighting equipment to targeted volunteer fire departments and other locations across PEI to increase response capabilities. Further investments will also be made in drone technology to allow forest fire operations to be effective and efficient.

The province has invested in salvage incentives for private woodlot owners to help them mitigate some of the fire risk following Fiona.

Preventing forest fires – advice for Islanders

On Prince Edward Island, over 90% of recorded wildland fires have been human caused and could have been prevented. These fires could be started by leaving your campfires unattended, negligently disposing of cigarettes or other human activities.

Some Islanders may choose to burn brush, leaves and yard waste this time of year. Restrictions are updated daily at 2 p.m., and permits are not needed for domestic brush burning (Category 1). However, burns can only be conducted after 2 p.m. if conditions allow. The 2 p.m. start time allows the province to process weather data and develop a fire danger risk that is predicted for the current day. Residents planning to burn brush outdoors must check for burning restrictions by calling 1-800-237-5053 or visiting the province’s fire information page.

Campfires do not require burn permits, but people should check for fire restrictions before starting a campfire. Municipalities may also have their own bylaws that restrict burning, so residents should also check with their local authority. Always ensure you have landowner permission before lighting a fire (insert recreational campfire link)

Preparing for forest fires – advice for Islanders

Wildfire mitigation is action taken before a wildfire ignites. Mitigation can help reduce the severity and spread of a wildlife. It can also help reduce negative impacts such as the destruction of homes.

Islanders are encouraged to learn more about wildfire mitigation and the FireSmart principles. One of those principles is working to remove fuel from around the home. Removing fuel from around your home reduces potential for fires to spread or continue growing. When there is no fuel that the fire can ignite, the fire will not spread; it will lose intensity and burn out. Learn more at princeedwardisland.ca/firesmart.


Published date: 
June 4, 2024
Environment, Energy and Climate Action

General Inquiries

Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division
J. Frank Gaudet Tree Nursery
183 Upton Road
Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6450

Wildlife Emergencies:

Like us on Facebook

Call 911 to report wildfires.