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October 8, 2012

Fire training centre moves closer to construction

The B.C. Government is planning the construction of an expanded firefighting office and training centre for the Wildfire Management Branch on land that has been leased from the City of Merritt.

The new Merritt Fire Zone building will be located on a 2.176-hectare plot on Airport Road, just south of the Merritt Airport’s runway.

The 25-year lease for the Airport Road property was signed on Sept. 21.

The government will have an option to renew it for another 25 years.

The facility will be designed to improve firefighting and monitoring capabilities in the Merritt area, which is one of the largest fire suppression zones in the province.

Ministry staff have been reviewing a series of conceptual drawings and a final decision on the building’s architectural design is expected later this fall.

The new training centre will offer classroom instruction and opportunities for recruits to develop firefighting skills in conditions similar to those encountered in the field.

Current emergency response staff will train at the centre, which will also offer an annual boot camp for new firefighters.

The facility is scheduled for completion before the 2013 fire season.

So far this year in the Merritt Fire Zone, the Wildfire Management Branch has responded to 107 fires that covered 653 hectares.

The Merritt Fire Zone office is home to five full-time staff and 57 seasonal staff.

Another 20-person sustained action unit crew, based in Princeton, also reports to the Merritt Fire Zone office.

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