New fire hall occupancy permit expected next week

The fire department has nearly three times the space to work with, which is especially evident in the truck bay, which has an exhaust ventilation system. At 87 by 70 feet, there’s room for eight trucks, with other special features like drainage under each truck and heated floors to help melt snow build up and dry the floor quicker. There’s also the ability to build two more bays in the future. 

The building has two different heating and cooling systems; in addition to high efficiency boilers, there are also geothermal heat pumps that circulate glycol through 32 wells underneath the parking lots year-round. 

One of the major benefits to the fire department having so much more space is that each room now has its own individual purpose, while in the current hall each room is essentially a multi-purpose room. For instance, there’s now a dedicated washroom for firefighter decontamination, and a gear storage room with directed air flow to help air the toxic gases from fires out of their suits. 

The fire hall also has its own specialized washer and dryer now, so it will no longer have to pay to have its gear washed at a local laundromat. Thanks to extra storage space, spare hoses can now be stored inside, instead of outside in a shed, there’s separate rooms for storing self-contained breathing apparatus, a workshop, and the electrical system. 

Another special feature for the new fire hall is the tower, which can be used both to hang dry hoses, as well as additional training. Deputy Fire Chief Curtis Redpath says they can now do simulations of high angle and confined space rescues, and practice using standpipes like those on apartment buildings and hotels, which they haven’t been able to do before. Firefighter fit tests can also be conducted in the town, like running stairs while carrying a hose pack. 

A designated training room is also a welcome new feature, and at 1,500 square feet, it can also serve as the primary operations room in the event of an emergency. It has several data ports and phone lines, along with projectors, whiteboards, and a mini kitchen. The firefighter’s kitchen and day room is also located on the ground floor, so they’re close to the bays should there be a call. 

One of the biggest improvements over the current space is the dispatch room. The room itself is completely self-sufficient, with its own backup heating and cooling system, a Murphy bed, bathroom and kitchen. From there, the member on dispatch can view the closed circuit television of the seven cameras around the building, which will prove useful in unlocking and opening doors when trucks are coming and going. Also on that side of the building are several offices and a conference room, as well as the main public entrance. 

The only rooms upstairs are the dorms and gym. There are 10 dorms with beds surrounding several locker, which is a vast upgrade from the current four beds plus the captain’s room. To save money, the fireman’s pole is housed in its own room off the gym, as the only other option was a collapsible floor, which could have cost around $20,000 extra. 

As the last bit of work and cleaning is done on the building, the firefighters are anxious to get into their new home and start learning where everything will go. So far they’ve had walkthroughs, but Redpath expects that by the first week of December, they will start running scenarios to feel more comfortable in the space. A move-in date has not yet been set, as it heavily depends on when the telecommunications and 9-1-1 services can be moved.

Construction on the new fire hall began in September 2011, and it was anticipated that it would be ready by spring of summer this year, but a snowy winter and rainy spring pushed the move-in date to this winter. As of September 9, the projected final budget for the project was estimated at $12,733,029. The original budget was set for $10.5 million, but an additional $1.4 million came from budget shortfalls for construction and project contingencies, project management, and site servicing, as well as $350,000 for other initiatives like geo-thermal and City owned fibre connectivity.

About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.