Princeton firm seeks funding to create new process for manufacturing firewood - InfoNews

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Princeton firm seeks funding to create new process for manufacturing firewood

A Princeton firewood manufacturer and a forestry industry research group are approaching the regional district for support of their application for a grant from the Rural Dividend Initiative.
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December 06, 2017 - 4:30 PM

PENTICTON - A Princeton firewood producer and a non-profit research group hope to garner regional district support for their application for funding to develop a pilot program leading to a new process for firewood production.

FP Innovations, a not-for-profit organization specializing in research and solution to issues in Canada’s forestry sector, have joined forces with SBC Firemaster of Princeton, which claims to be an industry leader and North America's largest producer of firewood and wood products.

FBC Firemaster produces bundled firewood to markets throughout Canada and the western U.S., and have a production facility in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen’s Princeton rural area H.

Owner and general manager of FBC Firemaster in Princeton, Paul Patton, says his firm has been in business since the mid-1980s in the Princeton area, and now employs 50 people.

"The firewood business is immature. There are massive market opportunities, as the industry is made up of small players. We're one of the biggest, and we have three per cent of the market share," Patton says, adding in order to take a larger share of the market, he needs to reinvent the process of manufacturing firewood.

"I liken it to the forest industry in the 70s and 80s. They brought technology into the market to maximize their returns, modernizing the industry. We want to do the same for firewood," Patton says. 

The partnership has approached the regional district with a request for support of an application to the Rural Dividend Initiative, seeking funding in the amount of $300,000 towards the total project cost of $500,000.

According to the partner’s rural dividend initiative proposal, the funding will be used to develop novel firewood processing technology that will “totally reinvent the way firewood is processed, using B.C. underutilized wood.”

The process could be set up in municipalities throughout B.C., with active forest sectors, providing new uses for fibre while adding to local employment opportunities.

The partnership expects the initiative will create 10 full time jobs and 10 seasonal positions.

If funds are approved, it is expected the design, development and installation of a demonstration firewood processing system in Area H, capable of doubling Firemaster’s current production, would begin in January, 2018 and be completed by August, 2019.

Deadline for the funding application is Dec. 15.

The regional district would provide support to the project, but would not be expected to contribute financially.

The request will come before the regional board of directors at tomorrow's regular meeting, Dec.7.


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