Managing Wildland Fire: Insights from Incident Commanders

January 31 2024 | 1200-1300 MST

A thought-provoking panel discussion on the main challenges incident management teams face managing wildland fires today in Canada and abroad. We’ll highlight gaps in knowledge and innovation and explore opportunities for future support. This session is designed to share the reality of wildland fire management with a broad audience consisting of practitioners and researchers.  

Presented by:

Hugh Murdoch started his career with BC Wildfire in the early 1990’s as an Initial Attack fire fighter as a summer student working towards a B.Sc. in Geography with a plan to work in the great outdoors and fresh air. Thirty two years later he has the checked off the outdoors and is working on the fresh air component of his workplace.  Hugh is the Wildfire Officer for the Kamloops Fire Zone in British Columbia’s southern interior.  Hugh has been involved with the IMT program since 2009 and has been leading a type one team since 2017.  He has worked in all corners of BC and has been into Alberta with his IMT, and has been deployed to many provinces in suppression roles as a single resource.  Hugh has also traveled to Greece, Chile, and Australia in support of suppression efforts.

Todd Lynch started with Alberta Forest Service in Fort McMurray 1985 as seasonal stevedore,  then joined IA crew in 1988 and remained seasonal employee until 2003. Have worked in Fort McMurray, High Level, Lac La Biche and currently based Peace River Forest as the Area Wildfire Prevention Officer. Certified IC1 and IGSP. Married to Bonnie (met in fire camp), two children (June 12 and Athan 14) and one dog (Mr.Mugs). 

Jane Park has been the Fire and Vegetation Specialist in Banff National Park located on the traditional territories of the Treaty 6, 7 and 8 First Nations and the Metis Nation homeland, since 2011. She started her career with Parks Canada in 2002 as a park warden for Banff National Park and has worked in various parks from Vuntut National Park (traditional territory of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation) in the Yukon to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (traditional territory of the Haida Nation) on the northwest coast of BC.  Her work in Banff focuses on the reintroduction of fire onto the landscape through prescribed fire, wildfire and fuel management, non-native and invasive vegetation management, and ecosystem restoration.  She is an Incident Commander on one of the 5 Parks Canada National Incident Management teams and has worked on numerous large wildfires across many national parks and provinces in Canada. She was also a member of the first CIFFC deployment to the Australian bushfires during the 2019 and 2020 fire season. Her recent work also includes raising awareness of gender and diversity issues within Parks Canada and the broader wildland fire community in collaboration with colleagues in various other fire agencies.

James McKinnon found his passion in wildfire management after graduating from the Maritime Forest Ranger School in Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2002.  After several seasons working on the district fire crew in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, James headed west in 2004 to work as a Helitack Leader in Northern Alberta. James would remain in Alberta for the next 18 years gaining experience and training and moving through fireline positions from Helitack Leader to a certified Incident Commander 2 and Ignition Specialist. James worked in High Level, High Prairie, Slave Lake, and Rocky Mountain House in Alberta before returning to his home province in 2021. Since 2013, James has volunteered with the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation and sits on the board of directors as the Wildland Director representing fallen wildland firefighters nationally at the national memorial in Ottawa. James currently works with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables as the Provincial Fire Science Officer.