GNWT to spend $27M on new tankers to battle forest fires

The N.W.T. government plans to buy eight Air Tractor "Fire Boss" aircrafts to replace the current fleet of four CL-215s.

Fleet of 8 'Fire Bosses' expected to arrive in territory in April 2017

The N.W.T. government had to borrow money to pay for forest fire fighting costs this season. (Adrian Skok/Plummer's Lodge)

The Government of the Northwest Territories is already planning for future fire seasons, as it looks to invest in new equipment and resources. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is reviewing how it handled this summer's wildfire season, which was considered the worst in a generation. 

The department is also planning to invest in new equipment for future seasons, which includes new air tankers.

Eight Air Tractor Fire Boss aircraft will replace the current fleet of four CL-215s. 

Each new tanker carries about 2,300 litres of water or fire retardant, about half the capacity of the CL-215s.

Bill Mawdsley, director of forest management in the territory, says other than that, there's not much difference between the new air crafts. 

"They use jet fuel, same as the jets that come in to Yellowknife," Mawdsely said. They're a lower-maintenance aircraft, a simpler aircraft — single engine, so the maintenance costs are expected to be lower.

"The biggest difference will be that they're a turbine-powered aircraft," he said

The fleet of Fire Bosses is expected to cost $27 million.

They're expected to arrive in the territory in April 2017.