New Fire Hall opens

new fire hall

The new fire hall and emergency response centre opened June 7. This four-floor state-of-the-art building is 44,000 square metres, and would serve as a command platform after an earthquake or natural disaster.

It was a small parade, but one filled with pride as 30 fire fighters marched last Friday from their old fire hall in dockyard to their new digs on Esquimalt Road.

As they strutted up to the massive candy-apple-red building, with Rick LeQesne leading the way, RAdm Bill Truelove, VAdm Paul Maddison and Associate Minister of National Defence, Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay were their to greet them.

The special march was part of the grand opening celebrations of the new Fire Hall and Emergency Operations Centre.

The ringing of the fire bell three times by the Minister signified the building was officially in service.

“Our government’s investment in critical infrastructure for our Canadian Armed Forces are helping to ensure our military and civilian personnel at CFB Esquimalt will have state-of-the-art equipment to assist them in carrying out their critical duties in the defence of Canada,” said Minister Findlay. “Investments like this in defence infrastructure are vital to ensure that members of can train and work together towards our defence objectives.”

The new fire hall is 4,438 square metres with two stories and five drive-through bays for emergency vehicles.

This project’s overall value is estimated at $27.3 million, which includes all aspects of the project, such as studies, design, construction, administration, contingencies and taxes.

“The staff are ecstatic with this state-of-the-art building,” said Fire Chief Steve Mullen. “We are able to consolidate all our equipment and personnel in one building now. The living space, storage and working space are a lot more spacious and there is more room to work.”

Aside from being the fire hall, the building will also serve as home for Base Operation and as a base command platform in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It is structurally reinforced to be self sufficient in an earthquake up to nine on the Richter scale.

Two 10,000 litre tanks provide potable water in case services are interrupted, and a separate sewage system will dispose of black and grey water.

“Emergency operations personnel could survive for a period of seven days or more without relying on being connected to community utilities,” said Mullen.

As part of a national fleet replacement, one of three new pumper trucks has arrived and is housed in the bays.

“Our workshop is 10 times the size of the previous one and we have conference rooms, classrooms and a large galley that can accommodate up to 15 firefighters,” said Mullen.

The alarm room has been upgraded from a telephone pager dispatch system to computer-aided dispatch coupled with GPS mapping. This allows firefighters to see a map of the building they are dispatched to and brief their crews while en route to the fire.

A new training tower allows firefighters to exercise skills such as rappelling, structural fire fighting and confined space rescue in close proximity to the fire station.

“Before, we used to use the tower at Work Point, but this is much better. It can be used for scenarios like structural fire fighting and we have the ability to hook up the truck, flow water from the sprinkler heads, and smoke out the interior for training.”

Base firefighters work 24 hour shifts, and the new, comfortable dorm rooms are an exceptional home away from home says Mullen.

The fire hall will house 104 firefighters and base operations personnel. A tiered training program has prepared them to use the new alarms and communications system within the building.

“It is very satisfying for the guys. A lot of time and effort has gone into the planning, with consultation to what the firefighters wanted to see. I think it is a quantum leap forward,” he said.

As for the dockyard fire hall, it will eventually be deconstructed and the soil remediated.

– Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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