Federal funds are helping the Kamloops Airport enhance its emergency response capabilities with the addition of a second aircraft rescue firefighting vehicle.
A successful application to the Airport Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) means the airport will receive $960,000 to purchase the truck, Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan announced on the airport tarmac on Wednesday morning.
The vehicle can carry more than 6,000 litres of water and also use foam concentrate and dry chemical fire retardants.
Though funding is approved, the vehicle won’t arrive until January of 2020, airport supervisor of safety and facilities, Tracy Brown told KTW.
The vehicle is brand new and will be coming right off the manufacturing line, she said, adding a rental vehicle will be used in the interim if it doesn’t arrive on schedule.
The second truck will increase the airport from a category 5 aircraft rescue firefighting response classification with Transport Canada to a category 6, she said.
Kamloops Airport was required to add the truck to increase its classification due to the Q-400 airplanes that land at the airport, Brown said.
West Jet operates Q-400 aircraft out of Kamloops and Air Canada recently announced it was upgrading its fleet from Dash 8-300 to the larger Q-400.
For the second consecutive sunmer, Air Canada will be flying Airbus A319s between Kamloops and Toronto.
“It’s the size of the aircraft that are coming in to the airport that drives that change,” Brown said.
The upgrade also means more firefighter maintenance technicians working at one time.
“We’ll go from a minimum of one firefighter on shift to two firefighters on shift,” Brown said.
“We’re firefighter maintenance technicians. We do everything out here. It’s kind of an all-encompassing role.”
The second fire truck will enable personnel to attack an aircraft with double the water flow from multiple angles and makes the airport a more attractive location for other service providers, Brown said.
Between 2016 and 2018, the airport received a snowplow and sweeper through ACAP, which were on display Wednesday with the airport’s current aircraft rescue firefighting vehicle, acquired in 2013.
Kamloops Airport manager Ed Ratuski told KTW the firefighting equipment is 100 per cent funded by ACAP, but contributions for items like the snow removal equipment depend on the number of passengers — the more the airport receives, the less the government contributes.
“We really want to take advantage of what’s available to us during this growth period to ensure we’re fiscally responsible to the Kamloops Airport Authority Society,” Ratuski said.
The government covered 65 per cent of the $130,000 snowplow cost and 65 per cent of the $120,000 needed for the sweeper. The airport will be eligible for just 35 per cent of cost recovery when it is serving approximately 400,000 passengers annually.
The airport has been experiencing growth by about 10 per cent month over month for the past 14 months, Ratuski said, noting 2018 was a record year, with 350,000 passengers using Fulton Field.
“Coming with that are safety enhancements that need to be kept up with and we’re very thankful the federal government, through the Airport Capital Assistance Program, assists us with meeting those regulatory requirements,” he said.
Passenger numbers for the second quarter of 2019 are expected to be about nine to 10 per cent higher than second quarter of 2018 and the airport is on track to set another yearly high, Ratuski said.
Those statistics will be released next week.
The Airport Capital Assistance Program helps smaller regional airports make infrastructure improvements and meet safety standards with the equipment they need.
Since the program began in 1995, Kamloops Airport has received more than $9.1 million in funding for 15 safety projects, including the rehabilitation of its runway, the apron and taxiways, snow-clearing equipment and the firefighting vehicle announced on Wednesday.