NATIONAL UPDATES Panel 1 – Supporting Fire Management Success

Date: Tuesday, November 19     Time: 3:00 to 4:00 pm

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre Panelist

Kim Connors

Kim Connors is the current Executive Director of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) located in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.


Born in the Province of New Brunswick (NB) on Canada’s east coast, Kim worked with the NB Department of Natural Resources before, during and after college and served many aspects of the wildland fire management program for 25 years concluding his service with NB as Manager of the provincial program from 2000 to 2009. In 2009, Kim accepted the position with the Province of Saskatchewan as Director of Operations for the Ministry of Environments’ Fire Management and Forest Protection Branch where he served for 14 months before accepting his current position as Executive Director of CIFFC in November of 2010.

As Executive Director at CIFFC, Kim is actively involved with the Canadian wildland fire community and helping them deal with the challenges associated with climate change and its effect on their wildland fire management programs. Under the direction of the Canadian community, Kim is leading the CIFFC team in its evolution to a strategic and pro-active organization, focused on meeting the current resource demands of the fourteen Canadian fire management programs.

Kim is also actively involved with international affairs through and in association with the Government of Canada.  He is an active participant with the Global Fire Monitoring Centre, the UNISDR Wildland Fire Advisory Group, International Fire Aviation Working Group, the North American Forestry Commission and the International Liaison Committee for the Global Wildland Fire Conference series.

National Research Council (NRC) Panelist

Dr. Noureddine Bénichou

Dr. Noureddine Bénichou is a Principal Research Officer at the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada.


He holds a Ph.D. from Carleton University in Civil and Environmental Engineering and has developed into an international fire expert through an extensive experience in the experimentation and modeling of fire phenomenon. His research areas include fire resistance modeling and experimentation of structures, fire safety in buildings, fire risk analysis and impact of wildfires on the wildland urban interface (WUI).

Dr. Bénichou led and completed large R&D projects to advance understanding of fire conditions and its impact on the occupant population, and assessing this impact in terms of risk and cost, including a current $1.5M project on the development of a National WUI guide for Canada. In addition, he is the author of over 300 technical publications. Before joining the NRC, he worked as a consultant developing design guidelines for use in performance-based building codes, and conducting studies on the trade-offs of fire department response time versus sprinkler protection.

Dr. Bénichou is a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Conseil International du Bâtiment, and the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers; represents Canada in ISO/TC92/SC4; and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton University.

Wildfire Management Working Group Panelist

Mike Norton

Michael Norton is Director General of Natural Resources Canada’s Northern Forestry Centre (NFC), located in Edmonton, Alberta.


NFC is a research centre comprising over 100 employees, with particular strengths in wildland fire, forest health, land reclamation, and climate change. Through extensive partnerships with the public, private and academic sectors, NFC supports the sustainable management of forests as a foundation for a vibrant industry. Mike plays a national leadership role on wildland fire as executive lead of the Canadian Forest Service’s Wildland Fire program, and as co-chair of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Wildland Fire Management Working Group.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, and served as Chairperson in 2018. Prior to joining NRCan in 2014, Mike has been Regional Director, Environmental Services and Contaminated Sites with Public Works and Government Services Canada (2013-2014), and Associate Regional Director General with Environment Canada (2011-2013), both for the prairie and northern regions.

He started his federal public service career with Environment Canada in 2000. Mike has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science from the University of Alberta.  He lives in Edmonton, and is married with two daughters.

FireSmart Canada Panelist

Ray Ault

Ray Ault is the new FireSmart Canada Executive Director. Previous roles include 16 years leading applied wildfire research with FPInnovations and many years in wildfire operations working in both BC and Alberta.


Ray has an MBA and has taught college level business and entrepreneurship classes. Ray lives in the Edmonton area.

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