Alberta Emergency Alert test taking place this week to mark start of wildfire season

Alberta Emergency Alert test taking place this week to mark start of wildfire season

Updated: 1 month, 2 days, 19 hours, 15 minutes, 9 seconds ago

Send this page to someone via email

It may still be the dead of winter but soon, fires will be a concern across Alberta. To mark the beginning of the official wildfire season the province will be conducting a test of the emergency alert system.

On Wednesday, March 1 at 1:55 p.m., the Alberta Emergency Alert system will go off across the province on televisions, radio, websites, social media, the Alberta Emergency Alert mobile app, and directly to Albertans via compatible cellphone push alerts.

“While test alerts are issued nationwide twice a year in May and November, this year’s emergency alert in Alberta is being done now to coincide with the official start of wildfire season on March 1,” said a statement from Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis.

Story continues below advertisement

The province said the tests help staff fix any system issues before an actual emergency and allow Albertans to consider their own readiness to respond to an unexpected event like a wildfire.

The phone alert only works if the receiving cellphone or mobile app is turned on and compatible, and is on an LTE 4G network or connected to WiFi.

If a cellphone is set to silent, it will display an emergency alert but will not play the jarring alert tone.

“Our top priority is saving lives and protecting Albertans,” Ellis said, adding that is why people are encouraged to download the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive messages about emergencies like tornadoes, wildfires, floods or Amber Alerts.

“When faced with an emergency, always follow instructions from authorities and check for updated alerts.”

Story continues below advertisement

Alberta created the first emergency alert system in the country more than 30 years ago.

Wildfire season begins March 1 in Alberta

The wildfire season runs from March 1 to Oct. 31 in Alberta. According to the provincial government, nearly all spring wildfires are human-caused, making them 100 per cent preventable.

The spring wildfire hazard is highest after seasonal melt has left vegetation like trees and grasses extremely dry and flammable — under these conditions, wildfire can ignite easily and spread quickly.

Click to play video: 'Fort McMurray wildfire: Boreal forests designed to burn, makes fighting it a challenge'


Fort McMurray wildfire: Boreal forests designed to burn, makes fighting it a challenge

During the 2022 wildfire season, Alberta recorded 1,246 wildfires that burned 130,858 hectares of land. The province said 61 per cent of wildfires last year were caused by humans.

While it is too early to predict what the 2023 wildfire season will look like, the province said Monday the spring rainfall will have a significant impact on what can be expected.

Story continues below advertisement

During the high-hazard time in spring, and throughout the wildfire season, the province said it is critical that people take care to fully extinguish campfires, frequently check off-highway vehicles (OHVs) for smouldering debris and conduct agriculture burning projects safely.

Fire permits are free but are required during wildfire season for activities like residential, industrial or agricultural debris burning within the Forest Protection Area (FPA).

The forest protection area encompasses most of northern Alberta’s Boreal forest, as well as the western foothills and mountains outside the national parks — the province said the FPA represents the geographic areas concerned with the prevention and control of damage to forests from fire, insects, disease and other harmful agents.

Those living or operating a business within the FPA can obtain their fire permit online at or by calling their local forest area office.

Those outside the FPA can contact their local municipality to ask about fire permit requirements.

To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (310-3473) toll-free, from anywhere in Alberta.