The Department of Natural Resources utilizes several methods to locate wildland fires as accurately and quickly as possible.
Members of the public report fires on a regular basis usually via the DNR maintained 1-800-565-2224 number as well as 911. The information that is received is usually very accurate and in most cases, reported during the early stages of the fire.
For more remote fires, we maintain a system of 33 strategically placed fire towers that provide maximum coverage for each area. The towers are metal structures that range in height from 15 to 30 metres and are staffed during the fire season through the peak burning hours (10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. depending on daily conditions) . When smoke is spotted, a compass bearing and an approximate location is determined. A nearby tower will attempt to determine the same information. The point where the bearings intersect should be the location of the fire. Tower operators can see 40 - 50 kms on a clear day. During high fire hazard, if haze exists, detection is supplemented with small fixed wing aircraft.
When an aircraft is used, they fly a predetermined route and cover the gaps that the tower operators are not able to see. Thanks to the aircraft's mobility it is possible to receive accurate information about the fires and to reduce response time.
The average response time to a fire in Nova Scotia is 20 minutes, due largely to early detection and mobile crews, giving us a response time that is the envy of many other agencies across the country.