The Grand Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) wants wildfire policies in Saskatchewan to change.

Brian Hardlotte said the Tribal Council is wanting to see some changes made in how wildfires in the north are dealt with. Speaking with MBC Radio News, Hardlotte echoed an earlier media release put out by the PAGC calling for the province to implement recommendations from a task force put together by the Tribal Council in 2018 along with the recommendations from a House of Commons Standing Committee in 2017.

Hardlotte said one of the major recommendations he would especially like to see implemented involves the hiring of type three firefighters.

“The type three firefighters are the emergency forest firefighters that get trained up and Prince Albert Grand Council does the training, I usually call them boots on the ground and one of the recommendations is to hire these people once they’re trained,” he said.

Another recommendation which the PAGC task force put forward involves the re-establishment of remote fire camps. Hardlotte explained these outposts were in more remote areas and were generally near a body of water. He said these facilities allow for extra bodies on the ground and could make a real difference in combating wildfires.

Overall Hardlotte said the province needs to look more to the people in northern communities to help fight wildfires.

“We have a workforce right here in Saskatchewan, in northern Saskatchewan, Indigenous people, they’re trained they have the knowledge to fight fire,” he said.

The grand chief, himself a former firefighter, who has fought fires across the country and helped train firefighters, said since the late 1990s he has observed a reduction in the level of firefighting resources available to communities in the province’s north. Along with the recommendations calling for more boots on the ground, Hardlotte said PAGC would like to see more firefighting capacity in northern communities. He said one way this could be done is to re-open forest protection offices in the north.

“These district offices used to be manned by personnel, they were ready to put the initial attack (on) fires,” he said.

When it comes to the role of rising global temperatures in making wildfires more intense, Hardlotte said this is something which he has personally observed, which makes it all the more important for more resources to be put towards combating fires.

“The fire behavior it is more intense,” he said.

(Top Photo: PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte speaks at the PAGC Assembly in 2022 in Prince Albert. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)