The Northwest Fire Centre (NWFC) is responsible for forest fire protection for the western portion of the Northern Interior Forest Region, and the northern portion of the Coastal Forest Region. It includes the forest districts of Kalum, Skeena-Stikine, Nadina, and North Coast. The area covers a quarter of British Columbia, from the coast to just west of Endako and from the Yukon border to Tweedsmuir Park. It is over 25 million hectares in size, consisting predominantly of pine and spruce trees. Balsam can also be found in the higher elevations with hemlock and red cedar becoming more prevalent along the coast.
The Northwest Fire Centre, located at the Smithers airport, is the operational headquarters for 20 regular year-round staff. Major communities in the Northwest are Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Dease Lake. In an average year, the Northwest Fire Centre responds to 160 wildfires, which burn approximately 18,000 hectares.
During the fire season, 104 wildland firefighters are stationed at bases in Burns Lake, Houston, Telkwa, Hazelton, Terrace and Dease Lake. They are comprised of eight initial attack crews and four unit crews. The fire fighters are supported by five administration staff, four Dispatchers and eleven Forest Protection Technicians and Assistants.
Over the course of the summer these firefighters are strategically placed in various locations to respond to wildfires throughout the Northwest, depending on where the fire hazard is the greatest. Secondary bases have also been set up in Atlin and Watson Lake to accommodate crews fighting wildfires in the far northern reaches of the region.
The NWFC has air tanker bases in Smithers, Terrace, Dease Lake and, through a cooperative agreement with the Yukon Forest Service, Watson Lake and Whitehorse.