The SOPFEU’s mission is to provide the very best forest fire protection so as to ensure the sustainability of forest areas at the lowest possible cost. Given the importance of natural resources and their economic impact, the SOPFEU plays a leading role for the benefit of the entire community.
Fires are unforgiving. They require a keen eye and quick and effective intervention. The SOPFEU team has mastered the art of fire management.
The challenge is great and the consequences are very real indeed. But thanks to its experience, skills, Incident Command System (ICS), facilities, and equipment, the SOPFEU is up to the job. Pursuant to agreements, it lends support to other Canadian provinces and to some American states.
Meteorological observations and forecasts are at the heart of the SOPFEU’s work. The organization’s know-how is based on its advanced capacity to analyze data provided by 193 weather stations. This way, the SOPFEU can monitor the situation in the forest province-wide and evaluate at-risk areas, every hour of every day. In addition, airplanes fly over the forest looking for suspicious smoke according to circuits based on weather conditions, the fire danger rating, or lightning.
The SOPFEU suggests forest activity restrictions as soon as the situation requires them. It has developed a series of tried and tested mechanisms to quickly inform the public and industries about situations presenting a danger of fire. Its deep expertise and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment enable the SOPFEU to make the best real time decisions to protect forest areas.
The strike force must be greater than the fire potential. The SOPFEU team is prepared to be deployed quickly and efficiently to contain fires. The team takes full advantage of the organization’s amphibious airtankers, quickly joined by forest firefighters and intervention groups arriving by helicopter or otherwise. It aims to intervene within one hour of the discovery of a fire.
Every year, 70% of fires are due to human activity, which shows the importance of education and awareness activities. The SOPFEU is working to lower this average through various prevention initiatives. Outdoor activity establishments, forest companies, and the media are important collaborators who also inform the population about high-risk situations.
The SOPFEU has approximately 450 employees, strategically spread throughout Quebec. Its Quebec City headquarters are complemented by four main bases, located in Baie-Comeau, Roberval, Maniwaki, and Val-d’Or, and a number of secondary and auxiliary bases as well. Some 300 forest firefighters, protection agents, and bird-dog officers are deployed, as is to be expected. But that’s not all! The SOPFEU also features a solid team providing the very best in forest fire protection, along with cutting-edge training, information, weather forecasting, telecommunications, and IT.
The SOPFEU’s strength also resides in the powerful network that it has established over the years. As a non-profit organization, it serves to connect the Quebec government, the forest industry, and major private woodlot owners. Managers of parks and outdoor activity establishments, municipal fire chiefs, forestry supervisors, and the media are all valuable collaborators maximizing the SOPFEU’s range of action. Keenly aware of the value of the forest, all these people support the organization in terms of both information and interventions.