Frank Lepine

Job Title

Manager, Fire Operations


Environment & Natural Resources - Forest Management Division

Length of service with the GNWT

27 Years


Renewable Resources Diploma, Arctic College (1984)
Bachelor of Science in Forestry, University of Northern British Columbia (2001)

What are your job responsibilities?

I manage and coordinate wildfire activity and responses through the NWT from the Forest Management Division Operations Centre in Fort Smith.  The major part of my work is to ensure that personnel, equipment, and aircraft are in place for the fire season.   That includes contracts, operating procedures, training, and other important processes.  I don’t do all of this alone and am part of a very large dynamic team that includes co-workers in the division and throughout the North.   I am expected to provide leadership and direction to this team.   In addition, the NWT, through our division, is part of a national/international effort that provides firefighting resources (personnel, equipment, and aircraft) throughout Canada and the US.  Our resources have been dispatched as far south as Oregon and as far east as Quebec.

How has the GNWT supported your professional development and advancement?

The GNWT has given me some very good opportunities to develop and further my education and training.

How did you end up working with the GNWT?

I started out as a firefighter with the Northern Affairs Program in 1981 and was given the opportunity to go to the Renewable Resources Technology Program at Arctic College (now Aurora College) in 1982 through the Northern Careers Program.   I worked as Base Manager, and then a Forest Officer with the Northern Affairs Program in the federal government.  The program was transferred to the territorial government in 1987 and a number of staff came over with the transfer.  During my career, I worked as a Renewable Resource Officer, a Forester, and have been a Manager since 2003.

Can you share an interesting story/work experience with the GNWT?

I could share many, from hunting bears in downtown Fort Smith or fighting fires that were threatening communities or consulting with community leaders on impacts of wildfires on human values.  I can say that working in this field and for the GNWT is extremely interesting and very challenging.

What would you recommend to someone applying on a GNWT position?

Get a good education up front.  Competition for some jobs may be plentiful.  If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up.  Working for the GNWT is very rewarding.

How do you feel your job makes a difference for Northerners?

We provide a lot of seasonal employment throughout the North, where in the smaller communities there may be very limited opportunities for employment.  In addition, a lot of the work is on the land, which can be very satisfying to personnel who enjoy being in the wilderness and away from the communities or don’t really have other ways to experience being on the land.