According to provincial officials, Alberta’s wildfire season will officially start in two weeks.

Beginning March 1, a permit will be required for all planned fires in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area with the exception of campfires.

It’s the fifth straight year where preparations for wildfire season begin a month early.

Legislation requires preparations for wildfires to begin by April 1.

Training for wildfire crew members also begins in March in Hinton.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier said it’s good to get a head start on preparing for wildfires.

“By beginning one month early, we can more effectively monitor burning activities and also ensure that our firefighters are well prepared to respond quickly when wildfires are detected.”

Carlier also said that below average snow and rainfall across Alberta may affect wildfire season this year.

Accelerating wildfire season preparations was one of the recommendations of the Flat Top Wildfire Complex Review that followed the 2011 Slave Lake area wildfires.

Fire permits are free and can be requested at any Agriculture and Forestry office.

Last year’s wildfire season produced more than 1,700 wildfires. One firefighter died near Cold Lake in June after his plane crashed while fighting a blaze by air near Cold Lake.

With files from Nicole Weisberg