ns-fire-tower-4col

This year, 14 towers will be staffed during the coming fire season — mostly in remote areas. (Government of Nova Scotia)

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources says the number of manned fire towers in the province will be reduced by more than half this year.

Charlie Parker, the Minister of Natural Resources, said the department had staff in 32 towers across Nova Scotia last year, watching for signs of forest fires.

This year, 14 towers will be staffed during the coming fire season — mostly in remote areas.

Parker said the province is moving toward a multi-detection approach that includes air surveillance and relying on the public's help.

"Most of our fires that are reported are not coming from our fire towers, they're actually from the general public," he told CBC News.

"Almost everyone has a cellphone. Actually, about 89 per cent of the fires that were first reported last year came from the general public by calling in 911."

Parker said of the 351 fires reported last year, 23 reports came from fire towers.

"Overall, we're going to have as good or probably a better system than we've had using a combination of fire towers, fixed-wing aircrafts, certainly the importance of the general public who call in on the 911 system," he said.

"I think overall we'll have a very strong detection system for fires in this province."

Parker said the fire service jobs will be relocated within the department.