CHETWYND -- A decision to relocate the Northern Initial Fire Attack Crew from Chetwynd to Dawson Creek will not be reversed despite concerns raised to the minister of forests by local MLAs and mayors from across the Peace Region.

In a letter addressed to the Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille and city council, Bruce Ralston confirmed the closure of the facility and its staff lodging on December 15th, 2023.

Ralston said the closure was due to an absence of full-time staff and aging infrastructure at the base, and added that the move will not impact response times.

“It is the intention of the Province of British Columbia to replace the current Chetwynd facility with a forward attack facility,” wrote Ralston.

The facility would allow the BC Wildfire Service to position crews during times of increased wildfire hazard, dispatching firefighters from the Dawson Creek Fire Zone.

“When crews are not located at the Chetwynd forward attack base, travel by helicopter would be 20-30 minutes from the crew’s assembly point in the Dawson Creek Fire Zone,” said Ralston in his letter.

In early February, Hudson’s Hope and Tumbler Ridge supported Chetwynd in condemning the move to relocate crews to Dawson Creek saying it could double response times in the community and surrounding districts.

Mike Bernier also wrote to the minister asking that he revisit the decision, citing climate projections that indicated the rising threat of wildfires within the communities in his riding.

The BC Wildfire Service said today there was no impact to the response time for the Sukunka River wildfire, with crews already dispatched to Chetwynd in anticipation of a wildfire in the area.

The letter was presented to Chetwynd city council during a regular council meeting on April 2nd, 2024.