The B.C. government is providing $5.88 million to construct a brand-new firefighting facility at the Williams Lake Airport for the use of BC Wildfire Service staff and crews.
The new one-storey, 2,045-square-metre (22,000-square-foot) main building and three upgraded outbuildings will be home to the Cariboo Fire Centre’s main office, associated support services, and ground crew and air crew facilities. Planned amenities include the regional wildfire co-ordination centre, airtanker and pilot facilities, meeting and training rooms staff offices, workshops, firefighter changing rooms, laundry and shower areas, and storage areas.
The four buildings will replace 11 separate structures and trailers, some of which are about 40 years old. The old Cariboo Fire Centre facility was originally set up to accommodate about half the number of staff that work there now, so its operational needs have long outgrown the older buildings.
Lauren Brothers Construction has been selected to build the state-of the-art firefighting complex through a competitive process. Construction is starting this month and should be completed by fall 2016.
About two-thirds of the project’s trade contractors are companies in the Williams Lake area.
The new structure will be built on long-term leased land at the north end of the Williams Lake Airport, in the same spot where the previous Cariboo Fire Centre office and auxiliary buildings were located. Until the new building is completed, BC Wildfire Service staff will work in temporary trailers that have been set up near the construction site.
The new Cariboo Fire Centre facility will improve wildfire response and suppression capabilities in one of the most active wildfire regions in British Columbia. One of the goals of this project is to centralize staff resources and promote increased efficiency. When responding to wildfires, fast and effective communications can directly impact decision-making, help minimize fire damage and enhance public safety.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson –
“Our government is committed to safeguarding B.C.’s families, natural resources and infrastructure. This new facility in Williams Lake will enhance our firefighting capabilities, provide work for local contractors and benefit communities throughout the region.”
Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MLA for Cariboo North Coralee Oakes –
“I, along with our government, appreciate the extraordinary commitment that our firefighting crews and staff have made to this province and to safeguarding our communities. We are pleased to fund this brand-new firefighting facility at the Williams Lake Airport that will continue to improve wildfire response and help ensure that safety remains a priority.”
Donna Barnett, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for Rural Development and MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin –
“Firefighters set an incredible standard of bravery and commitment by working tirelessly to put out multiple fires in difficult conditions. This funding from our government will help support these hardworking and dedicated individuals by constructing a Cariboo Fire Centre facility to enhance their firefighting capabilities and strengthen public safety in the Cariboo and across the province.”
- The Cariboo Fire Centre is one of the busiest regions in B.C. for wildfire response. Its area of responsibility covers about 10.3 million hectares, stretching from Loon Lake near Clinton in the south to the Cottonwood River near Quesnel in the north and from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the west to Wells Gray Provincial Park in the east.
- The Cariboo Fire Centre maintains a core staffing level of 110 people during the fire season. During periods of increased fire activity, additional personnel from other areas may be stationed at the Cariboo Fire Centre to support wildfire response efforts.
- The current Williams Lake facility is home to the Cariboo Fire Centre office, the Cariboo Chilcotin Fire Zone office, the Regional Wildfire Co-ordination Centre, an airtanker base, 12 three-person Initial Attack Crews and a 20-person sustained action Unit Crew and air crew.
- Two fire zone offices in 100 Mile House and Quesnel, as well as one field office in Alexis Creek, also report to the Cariboo Fire Centre. A 20-person, sustained action Unit Crew is based in each of these locations.