New facilities to improve Interior forest fire fighting
New capital funding announced as part of the provincial budget 2012-13 will allow an expanded zone office and 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 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.
- 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.
- Wildfire crews fight more than 2,000 wildfires throughout British Columbia each year.
- About 92 per cent of all wildfires in B.C. are contained at less than four hectares.