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Wildfire Safety

Staying safe in wildfire season

As wildfires increase in frequency and intensity throughout Alberta, protecting your community while providing safe, reliable power, is our highest priority. Here’s what we’re doing, and what you can do to stay prepared. 

Information Sessions

We will let you know of any upcoming information sessions. See the presentation from our most recent information session.

Wildfire in Alberta

Wildfire season starts in Alberta on March 1 and it runs until October 31.

930

reported wildfires so far in 2023, with more than 19,400 square kilometres burned

1,246

wildfires in 2022 and more than 130,858 hectares burned

61%

of wildfires were human-caused in 2022

2019

was one of the worst years in Alberta’s history for wildfires, with 880,000 hectares burned

To learn more about wildfires in Alberta and stay up to date on fire bans, visit Alberta Wildfire.

If you have questions or want to learn more about what we’re doing to mitigate fire risk, please contact us at stakeholderrelations@altalink.ca or 1-877-267-1453 (toll-free).

Reducing risks

We are strengthening our system and working hand-in-hand with your community to deliver safe and reliable power to your home or business and to reduce wildfire risk. This includes maintaining the safety of our system and seeking out new best practices to be even more vigilant. We are working with local emergency service and community leaders to expand and enhance existing emergency response plans. 

We’re adding new safety measures and system enhancements, including:

  • Enhanced vegetation clearing practices

    To minimize wildfire risk we need to remove the potential for trees to contact power lines.  

    Our enhanced vegetation management practices are focused on maintaining safe clearance distances around our power lines by: 

    • performing vegetation inspections 
    • tree trimming to manage overhang 
    • removing trees within the right-of-way
  • Additional inspections

    We are proactively increasing our inspections in high fire risk areas to identify potential threats that need mitigating: 

    • increasing inspection frequencies to twice a year (or more) on lines in high fire risk areas, with more detailed inspections every 3 years 
    • mitigating concerns within 6 months 
    • performing required asset updates within 12 -24 months
  • Investments to improve resiliency

    We’re enhancing our situational awareness by: 

    • Field crews monitoring wildfire risk 
    • Identifying and prioritizing higher risk areas 
    • Continuous monitoring of fire threats to utility infrastructure

For areas at a higher risk of fast-spreading catastrophic wildfires, we are establishing a new fire prevention measure called a Public Safety Power Shut-off. A Public Safety Power Shut-off is a new measure designed to help keep people and communities in high-risk areas safe, by proactively shutting off power during extreme and dangerous weather conditions that can result in catastrophic wildfires. This measure would only be taken as a last resort to help ensure customer and community safety. 

Staying safe in wildfire season is a major undertaking. While no one measure can remove all of the risks, we are committed to taking every possible step to ensure that your power is safe and reliable. 

Public Safety Power Shut-off

A Public Safety Power Shut-off is a new tool designed to keep people and communities in high-risk areas safe. We proactively shut off power to our impacted transmission ines, which will also de-energize the electricity distribution system connected to our lines, during extreme and dangerous weather conditions that can result in catastrophic wildfires. 

This would only be used as a last resort preventative measure to ensure customer and community safety. 

As part of this effort, AltaLink is working with local emergency services, to expand and enhance existing emergency response plans and work in coordination with our communities. 

Given the highly situational nature of a Public Safety Power Shut-off, it is impossible to predict the customers that may be impacted. The specific area and number of affected customers will depend on forecasted weather conditions. 

The Public Safety Power Shut-off is anticipated to be infrequent and only used under rare conditions.

Conditions that could trigger a Public Safety Power Shut-off 

Public Safety Power Shut-offs will be initiated only in specific, previously identified areas of high fire risk when on-the-ground conditions create an extreme wildfire risk that could lead to loss of life, catastrophic damage and be difficult to fight. 

We monitor a range of factors before triggering a Public Safety Power Shutoff including: 

  • The presence of dry vegetation and other potential wildfire fuel 
  • High winds 
  • Low humidity 
  • Real time observation from on-the-ground experts

What customers should expect

Wildfires conditions can change rapidly, but while there is no set timeline for Public Safety Power Shut-offs, we’re committed to providing information in the timeliest manner possible.

  • Advanced warning: Whenever possible, we will provide advance notice of a Public Safety Power Shut-off. Although worsening conditions may require swift action, our goal is to alert you as early as possible before an outage.
  • Continued updates: As conditions change on the ground, we will keep you informed before, during and after a Public Safety Power Shut-off. Updates will be delivered via a range of channels including text, phone, radio, and social media, and through coordination with local emergency organizations.
  • Safety inspection: Once the extreme weather conditions have passed, AltaLink crews will inspect affected power lines and equipment for damage and debris before restoring power.
  • Power restoration: We will restore your power as quickly as we safely can.

Fire risk areas

We identified Bow Valley, Cadomin, and Crowsnest Pass as high-risk fire areas within our service territory. To minimize wildfire risk, we are reinforcing our assets in these areas.

Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) criteria

The triggers for a PSPS would be if the Fire Weather Index (FWI) and wind speeds exceed a certain threshold. There have been no exceedances in the Bow Valley in the last 20 years that would have initiated a PSPS. 

The thresholds for the communities in our service territory and the potentially affected areas can be seen below. You can click on the maps to make them larger.

AreaFWIWind SpeedsMaps
Bow Valley6070 km/h
Cadomin6060 km/h
Crowsnest Pass6080 km/h

Frequently asked questions