Municipal Wildfire Assistance Programs (MWAPs)
The Municipal Wildfire Assistance Program (MWAP) is a province wide program developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. The program is intended to help reduce both the risk and loss associated with wildfires and is designed to assist municipalities with extraordinary costs for the suppression of wildfires when they occur.
For the purposes of eligibility, the term wildfire includes any unwanted or unplanned wildland fire that burns in forested or grassland areas anywhere in the province of Alberta other than the Forest Protection Area or on federal lands.
Eligible program costs include:
- costs associated with the suppression of wildfire;
- regular salary and overtime wages for suppression of wildfires;
- creation of fire guards;
- reclamation of land from fire guards; and
- restoration of fences cut to create access for fire fighting
The program does NOT cover costs:
- that could have been reasonably prevented or avoided;
- for which insurance was readily and reasonably available;
- which could likely be recovered through legal action;
- which could be recovered through other government programs
- for fires occurring on unoccupied public land;
- for the suppression of structural fires; or
- for damage to property, such as structures, fences, or landscaping.
A municipality that incurs emergency operations costs directly associated with the suppression of wildfires where those costs exceed $25 per capita during any provincial fiscal year (April 1 through March 31), will be considered eligible. The official population figures published by Alberta Municipal Affairs in the preceding fiscal year will be used to determine per capita costs.
To be eligible, a municipality must contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as early as practicable and use Agriculture and Forestry resources if deemed appropriate. As well as providing a copy of the request for Agriculture and Forestry assistance, the municipality must also provide an investigative report, identifying the responsible party.
In addition, municipalities must demonstrate that they have implemented wildfire prevention initiatives that were fully operational by April 1, 2009, that show that they have:
- signed Mutual Aid Agreements with neighbouring municipalities, industrial fire departments (where available), and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry;
- included Agriculture and Forestry in its Municipal Emergency Plan;
- implemented a fire permit program according to Agriculture and Forestry’s Fire Permit Guidelines Manual. The goal of the fire permit program is to ensure that residents and businesses obtain permission from municipal officials before “controlled” burning is allowed;
- implemented a wildfire awareness program (e.g. FireSmart) which encourages residents to take mitigative steps to protect their homes and property from the threat of wildfire;
- ensured that one or more senior personnel from the municipal fire department has taken wildfire management courses approved by the local Agriculture and Forestry Wildfire Protection Area manager; and
- implemented a proactive aerial and ground infrared scanning program for detection and subsequent follow-up or actioning.
Once a municipality has determined that it has incurred costs in excess of $25 per capita, it should contact AEMA at (780) 422-9000 (or 310-0000 for toll-free access outside Edmonton). An evaluator will contact the municipality to arrange for a review of appropriate municipal records.
A municipality will be expected to keep accurate and detailed financial records on the costs associated with wildfires. Additional information that will be required includes:
- location and legal land description of the fire(s) and
- any investigative reports that may have been completed identifying the cause of the fire.