Construction is nearing completion on a permanent fire base building for provincial fire fighters stationed in Valemount.

The building replaces five portable sheds and trailers at the fire base compound north of town. The project is funded by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations.

The upgrade will add a new fire zone office and initial attack base at the site but on-site accommodations for fire crew members will no longer be available. Crew members will have to find accommodations in town.

Ministry spokesperson Brennan Clarke says having just one building will also result in lower heating and maintenance costs over the life of the structure, he says. The floor area of the new office building will be slightly greater than that of the five existing trailers.

Construction was anticipated to take 6 to 9 months total. Mierau Contractors Ltd. project superintendent Ray Guenther says they are on track for having the building completed by the end of April.

The exterior, drywall, windows, and much of the wiring is already completed.

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. When not fighting wildfires, fire crews assist with local fuel management activities. There will be no additional staff or crews at the base on a permanent basis.

Laura Keil