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