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Fire department expected to be in new firehall by the end of the month

A panoramic image of the truck bay at the City of Prince George’s new Fire Hall #1. The bay allows for the accommodation of modern firefighting apparatus and features a wood roof structure using laminated veneer lumber. City of Prince George photo

Construction of the new fire hall is now largely complete. The city expects fire suppression crews and equipment to move into the building and the facility to be activated as the new Fire Hall #1 by the end of the month. In late December, administrative staff began moving into the building.

Located next to City Hall at Seventh Avenue and Dominion Street, the city’s older fire hall is more than 60 years old and no longer able to meet current standards as a fire and rescue facility, Emergency Operations Centre, and Fire Operations Communications Centre. A replacement for Fire Hall #1 was proposed by the City of Prince George in 2017 to enhance service to more of the city.

One of the unique features of the building is the front entrance stairwell constructed from nail laminated timber. Crews used more than 100,000 fasteners and over 3,000 pieces of lumber to construct this aspect of the facility. City of Prince George photo

City residents, in a 2017 referendum, approved borrowing $15 million for the new firehall to replace the old Firehall No. 1 downtown. In June last year, it was revealed that the project was $2 million over budget due largely to fact 5,000 square feet was added to the building’s footprint. The original design put the size at 21,000 square feet, but the final design is now 26,000 square feet. The additional space is required in the fire dispatch centre and mechanical room.

Having crews and equipment strategically located at its more centralized site on Massey Drive will improve fire rescue’s eight-minute response time, which is critical for keeping fires contained to one room. After eight minutes, fires can spread into the rest of a structure, greatly increasing the risk of fatalities.

“The building design itself will also serve to improve response times,” said Fire Chief John Iverson. “Fire Rescue crews’ workspaces and living quarters are located in close proximity to the fire apparatus. This means that when the fire alarm rings, the firefighters are able to quickly access their gear, board the fire trucks, and leave the building. The new fire hall is able to house modern firefighting equipment and is built to modern, post-disaster standards, which is essential for the city’s main fire hall and emergency operations hub. The facility will also improve our ability to protect our firefighters with upgraded industrial hygiene and decontamination technology.”

Landscaping at the new facility is expected to be completed by the end of the summer of 2021. The Fire Operations Communications Centre and Dispatch is scheduled to be operational in the facility by the fall.

“Council is pleased that emergency services in Prince George are taking such a significant step forward with the completion of this important, state-of-the-art facility, which will enhance public health and safety in our City ” says Lyn Hall, Mayor of Prince George. “We would like to thank City staff, the design team, and construction crews for their hard work on this impressive new building, which will be serving our community for many years to come.”

In 2018, the City appointed HCMA Architects and Planning of Vancouver and an engineering design team led by L&M Engineering of Prince George to design the replacement Fire Hall #1. A local company, IDL Projects, served as the general contractor. In all, more than 250 people were employed during the construction of the new fire hall. 

Prince George City Council will receive a report on the new hall during the January 11 meeting of Council.

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