Red Deer County has turned a pair of industrial building bays into a new fire hall in a move that would save hundreds of thousands in new building costs.
The fire hall will be located in the Burnt Lake Business Park and will replace a pair of bare-bones fire halls that volunteer firefighters have been using since the early 1980s, said Ric Henderson, county community and protective services director.
The two condominium industrial bays provide 3,200 square feet of space and will cost the county about $600,000. That’s a huge savings over the cost of building a new fire hall.
“The one we built in Springbrook — and that’s five years ago — was $1.4 million,” he said.
Besides offering a cheaper alternative, the industrial bays will be much easier to sell if the city was to eventually annex the area and the county had to move its station elsewhere.
“That wouldn’t be for a long time of course.”
The new fire hall will be called Fire Station 23, a combination of Fire Stations 2 in Poplar Ridge, just west of Red Deer, and Fire Station 3 in Central Park, in a newly annexed area just north of the city.
It will provide a much more comfortable and useful station for its 13 volunteer firefighters than the fire halls it replaces.
“(Central Park) was little more than a Quonset that was put up in 1981,” he said, adding the station did not even have water.
The small building had room for a tanker and a pickup squeezed in next to it.
The Poplar Ridge station, a small garage-like building, also had no running water and housed a pumper truck.
Henderson said the new facility will house a tanker, rapid response pumper and a bush truck, a specially outfitted pickup.
“There’s room for adding additional units if the need arises there,” he said.
Firefighters will also have the benefit of running water, washrooms, work and tool spaces, and an area for washing and drying equipment.
The move also brings together firefighters previously split between stations under one roof, he said.
“The bonus of having all these people going to one place is you can maximize all the spaces on the truck — you can fill all the seats basically,” he said.
The county has about 50 volunteers in four fire stations, the main station at Delburne Road and 40th Avenue, and stations in Springbrook, Spruce View, and now Burnt Lake.
The county also provides trucks and operating funds to volunteer fire departments in Delburne, Elnora, Sylvan Lake, Bowden and Innisfail.
A “Hose-cutting” ceremony is planned for today at the new fire hall at 37 Burnt Basin St. at 2 p.m.