The B.C. government is investing up to $4.74 million in a new firefighting centre to enhance wildfire response and management, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.
The facility will house an expanded Merritt fire zone office and a new provincial wildfire training centre, and will be used as a strategic operations base for out-of-province firefighters during wildfire season.
With space for up to 58 staff, storage for firefighting and other equipment, as well as three classrooms to support in-the-field training, the facility will enhance firefighting and wildfire monitoring in the Merritt region, one of the busiest fire suppression zones in the province.
The 1,332-square-metre (14,300-square-foot) structure will be built on a lot leased from the City of Merritt near the airport. Construction is due to be completed by April 2013.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
"The B.C. government is committed to safeguarding the well-being of B.C.'s families and protecting our natural resources and infrastructure. The new firefighting and training facilities in Merritt will expand our capabilities and benefit communities throughout B.C."
Mayor of Merritt Susan Roline -
"This is a project that will provide employment and economic benefit to our community, not only during the construction phase, but for many years to follow. The lease with the Province provides a new long term revenue source for the City of Merritt, a goal our councils have been working on since 2008."
- Merritt is the largest fire suppression zone in the province with over 70 people working out of the facility. It also has one of the largest workloads, responding to 110 wildfires in the 2012 season.
- The Merritt fire zone office is home to five full-time staff and 53 seasonal staff, including fire officers, four three-person initial attack crews and two 20-person sustained action unit crews.
- Another 20-person sustained action unit crew, based in Princeton, reports to the Merritt fire zone office.
- Wildfire crews fight more than 2,000 wildfires throughout British Columbia each year.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations: http://www.gov.bc.ca/for
Wildfire Management Branch: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
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Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations