The British Columbia government has enhanced the province’s firefighting capability in the Cariboo-Chilcotin with the opening of a $7.1-million facility at the Williams Lake Airport.
The new, one-storey building, which covers 2,139 square metres (23,000 square feet), was officially opened today by Coralee Oakes (Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MLA for Cariboo North) and Donna Barnett (Minister of State for Rural Economic Development and MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin).
One of the four existing outbuildings was renovated as part of the construction project, which got underway in August 2015. The updated facility is home to the Cariboo Fire Centre’s main office, associated support services, and ground crew and air crew facilities.
Other important amenities include the regional wildfire co-ordination centre, airtanker and pilot facilities, meeting and training rooms, staff offices, workshops, storage space, a firefighter fitness training area (gym) and changing rooms, as well as laundry and shower areas.
The new or renovated buildings have replaced 11 separate structures and trailers, some of which were about 40 years old. The old Cariboo Fire Centre was originally set up to accommodate about half the number of staff that work there now, so it had to be expanded and modernized to meet the needs of today’s firefighting operations.
Lauren Brothers Construction was selected to build the state-of the-art firefighting complex through a competitive process. About three-quarters of the project’s trade contractors were companies based in the Williams Lake area.
One of the goals of revitalizing the Cariboo Fire Centre was to centralize resources and improve communications between BC Wildfire Service staff throughout the region. When responding to wildfires, speed and efficiency aid decision-making, help minimize wildfire damage and enhance public safety.
This new facility will improve the BC Wildfire Service’s ability to respond to wildfires in the Cariboo and maintain its reputation as a world-class fire management organization well into the future. The government needs to make sure that the province’s firefighters and wildfire management professionals have the right facilities and equipment to do that crucial job and keep our communities safe.
Upgrading BC Wildfire Service facilities is one of the key ways that the B.C. government is taking action to strengthen, grow and diversify rural communities.
The construction and renovation of the Cariboo Fire Centre builds on the immediate investments and long-term action plan outlined in B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy that are expected to create over 26,000 jobs and add $2.8 billion to the provincial GDP.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“The B.C. government is making record investments in infrastructure and is committed to safeguarding B.C.’s communities and natural resources through projects such as the new Cariboo Fire Centre. We are able to invest in these vital capital projects thanks to the government’s strong fiscal plan.”
Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development and MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin –
“BC Wildfire Service staff are highly trained and fully committed to protecting British Columbians from wildfire threats. The new Williams Lake facility enhances the Cariboo’s firefighting capabilities and has also provided important opportunities for local workers and contractors.”
Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MLA for Cariboo North –
“The new Cariboo Fire Centre is state-of-the-art and will make it easier for our hardworking firefighters, air crews and support staff to do their jobs. I am confident that our government’s investment in firefighting infrastructure in the Cariboo region will make our communities safer.”
- The Cariboo Fire Centre is one of the busiest wildfire response jurisdictions in British Columbia. 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 over 165 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 firefighting efforts.
- The 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, a 20-person sustained action Unit Crew and aircraft personnel.
- 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 those locations.
BC Wildfire Service: www.bcwildfire.ca
B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy: