Fire Hall No. 1 a relic from another era

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - Bar­bara GEERNAERT Cit­i­zen staff bgeer­naert@pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca

It might be the end of an era. For the last 60 years, with boots pulled on, fire­fight­ers have grabbed their hel­mets as they flew down a 20-foot pole in a surge of flurry at Fire Hall No. 1 in Prince Ge­orge.

The fire hall con­tin­ues to house the only fire pole left of its kind in the city but this might soon come to an end with a ref­er­en­dum com­ing up on Oct. 28 to de­ter­mine the fate of the build­ing.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic will have the op­por­tu­nity to tour Fire Hall No. 1 and the pro­posed site for a new lo­ca­tion on Satur­day.

“We are def­i­nitely in need of mod­ern mu­nic­i­pal fire de­part- ment,” says Fire Chief John Iver­son.

“All mod­ern fire halls must meet stan­dards and fire poles are no longer a re­quire­ment. This one will be the last in Prince Ge­orge.”

But ac­cord­ing to Iver­son, there are many pieces in­volved in de­ter­min­ing the need for a new fire hall in the city, age be­ing one of them.

Lo­cated next to city hall at Sev­enth Av­enue and Do­min­ion Street, the city’s main fire hall is more than 60-years-old.

City coun­cil re­acted af­ter re­ceiv­ing a Fire Un­der­writ­ers Sur­vey Re­port which in­di­cated that Fire Hall No. 1 is no longer able to meet cur­rent stan­dards as a fire and res­cue fa­cil­ity, emer­gency op­er­a­tions cen­tre and fire op­er­a­tions com­mu­ni­ca­tions cen­tre.

Dis­patch­ers are stuffed in a sin­gle room as they han­dle calls from 79 res­cue agen­cies from Vale­mount to Kiti­mat.

The stor­age shop and re­pair shop are on top of one another with boxes and equip­ment packed on al­ready full shelves.

And the largest fire truck in the city, since 1998, can­not fit into the crowded build­ing.

“There is a lack of space. We need a change,” Iver­son said. “We have max­i­mized the use of this build­ing. And with cur­rent fire pro­tec­tion rules, trucks are get­ting taller.”

“Fire de­signs have changed so much and this build­ing is cin­der block. You just don’t see this any­more,” Iver­son said.

A new fire hall is es­ti­mated to cost $15 mil­lion and the pro­posed new lo­ca­tion would be lo­cated at the south cor­ner of Massey Drive and Car­ney Street.

Ac­cord­ing to Iver­son, be­ing more cen­tral will ex­pand the eight-minute re­sponse zone by 50 per cent.

The new lo­ca­tion also has ac­ces­si­ble drive­ways and dis­as­ter stan­dards could fi­nally be met. “These things weren’t con­sid­ered when this was built,” Iver­son said.

City spokesper­son Mike Kel­lett says that dur­ing the Cari­boo wild­fires evac­u­a­tion, the city’s op­er­a­tion cen­tre at the fire hall was cramped dur­ing meet­ings and the lack of space only wors­ened as time went on.

About 10,676 evac­uees were reg­is­tered mak­ing Prince Ge­orge their tem­po­rary home for more than a month.

Iver­son says that op­er­a­tions such as this must be planned in the hall and must be op­er­ated at the lo­ca­tion.

“We re­ally felt it when han­dling the evac­u­a­tion. It was so crowded and not prac­ti­cal at all,” Iver­son said.

“I will not miss this build­ing. It is the end of its use­ful life.”

If re­lo­cated, the old fire hall will re­main as city-owned prop­erty and will be re­served for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to Kel­lett.

Ref­er­en­dum vot­ing day for the re­build­ing of the Four Sea­sons Pool and Fire Hall No. 1 will take place on, Oct. 28.

Res­i­dents are in­vited to an open house hosted by the city on Satur­day from 9 a.m. un­til noon and at the pro­posed lo­ca­tion from 1 to 4 p.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the ref­er­en­dum in­clud­ing de­tails, ad­vanced vot­ing dates and lo­ca­tions, visit: www.prince­ge­orge.ca/ ref­er­en­dum.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

Fire Chief John Iver­son leads a tour of the me­dia at Fire Hall No. 1 on Thurs­day morn­ing.

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