Wildfire management initial attack crews based in the Robson Valley will soon be stationed in a new operations centre, thanks to capital funding announced in the 2012-13 provincial budget.
“Our government is committed to safeguarding B.C.’s families, natural resources and infrastructure. The upgraded facility in Valemount will support effective firefighting operations throughout the region,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
The construction project will include a new fire zone office and initial attack base in Valemount.
The Valemount Fire Zone office is home to two full-time staff and 11 seasonal staff, including two auxiliary staff and three three-person initial attack crews.
The structure will replace an existing trailer complex and will be built on property leased from the Village of Valemount. The larger office will be better equipped to accommodate wildfire response operations during the fire season and support wildfire management priorities, including fuel management projects.
The Wildfire Management Branch is working on preliminary plans and aims to open the new fire zone office and initial attack base in 2013.
New Merritt facilities
Also announced in the budget were an expanded zone office and a new provincial wildfire-training centre to be built in Merritt.
The construction project will improve the Wildfire Management Branch’s fire suppression and monitoring capabilities within the Merritt Fire Zone, one of the largest fire suppression zones in the province.
The Merritt Fire Zone Office is home to five full-time staff and 57 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, also reports to the Merritt Fire Zone office.
The provincial training centre offers crucial hands-on training and assessment of firefighting recruits. The new facility will include classrooms and allow recruits to develop their skills in conditions similar to those encountered in the field. The zone office will also be used as a strategic operations base for out-of-province personnel during extreme wildfire seasons.
The Wildfire Management Branch is working on preliminary plans for the new facility and is currently seeking a suitable building site in the Merritt area