The Cariboo Fire Centre in Williams Lake will have a brand-new firefighting facility.

The B.C. Government is providing $5.88 million in funding to construct the new facility at the Williams Lake Airport for the use of BC Wildfire Service staff and crews.

The one-storey, 2,045 square metre main building, along with three upgraded outbuildings, will be the home of the Cariboo Fire Centre main office, associated support services, and ground crew and air facilities.

“Firefighters set an incredible standard of bravery and commitment by working tirelessly to put out multiple fires in difficult conditions,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “This funding from our government will help support these hardworking and dedicated individuals by the construction 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 covers an area of 10.3 million hectares that ranges from Loon Lake near Clinton in the south, to the Cottonwood River near Quesnel in the north, to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the west, to Wells Gray Provincial Park in the east.

The planned amenities include the regional wildfire coordination centre, airtanker and pilot facilities, meeting and training rooms, staff offices, workshops, firefighter changing rooms, laundry and shower areas, and storage areas.

“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,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The four buildings will replace 11 separate structures and trailers, some of which are about 40 years old. The Cariboo Fire Centre facility was originally set up to accommodate half the number of staff that currently work there, so the operational needs have long outgrown the older buildings.

Construction will start this month and is expected to be complete by fall 2016. Lauren Brothers Construction has been selected to build the state-of-the-art firefighting complex. About two-thirds of the project’s trade contractors are companies in the Williams Lake area.

The new structure will be built in the same spot that the previous Cariboo Fire Centre and auxiliary buildings were located. Until the new building is complete, BC Wildfire Service staff will work in temporary trailers 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 of the province.