June 12th, 2024

Newest fire station just weeks away

By Collin Gallant on August 15, 2018.

The City of Medicine Hat's new fire station, located at the north end of the Maple Avenue Bridge, could be in operation following the Labour Day weekend, officials tell the News.--COLLIN GALLANT


cgallant@medicinehatnews.com
@CollinGallant

A plan launched six years ago to expand fire coverage in Medicine Hat without adding expenses could be complete after the September long weekend, officials tell the News.

That is the tentative date for crews and equipment from the current Fire Station No. 1 on Maple Avenue to trek north to the new location on the north side of the Maple Avenue Bridge.

That building is one of two new fire halls built further out from the city centre in order to boost response times to the outskirts without adding new crews and equipment to man an entirely new station.

Fire chief Brian Stauth said the two long timetables for the major construction projects, including a move of crews and administrators to a new station on Trans-Canada Way, has moved along steadily.

The site north of the South Saskatchewan River was certified as substantially complete early this month, and with only minor work winding up, utility, computer and operational systems are being installed this week.

The move could take place in a day early next month, said Stauth.

“It will be very seamless as far as the public is concerned,” said Stauth.

“There will be some red trucks parked in a different building. The biggest change is with our response times.”

The plan is in response to a 2012 fire master plan that said new homes in the rapidly growing south end were outside standard response times. It recommended an additional station (the city’s fourth) be added near South Boundary Road. At the same time, council members wondered about the growing north end, and lobbied for better coverage there, but at the cost of roughly $8 million in annual operating costs.

The resolution — to move operations to two new stations and close two others — brings 95 per cent of the houses in Medicine Hat within areas that engines can reach within six minutes 20 seconds. Reaching the remaining five per cent takes seconds longer, said Stauth.

“We are certainly seeing the improvements (in response times that we were expecting when we moved to Trans-Canada Way,” said Stauth. “And we fully expect to see the same sort of benefits with this one.”

The move north of the river will improve response times in Ranchlands, Terrace, Parkview and Riverside, he said, and maintain times in other central communities such as the River Flats, South Hill and downtown.

Construction on the $8.25-million station in Riverside began in May 2017, managed by Scott Builders.

The official address is 401 Parkview Drive, near the intersection of Altawana Drive, Parkview and Maple Avenue. Crews located there in 2013 when flood waters forced the closure of the city’s three traffic bridges.

A fully equipped, fully staffed station costs roughly $4 million annually to operate. Administrators say that even with the $16-million capital budget among the two new stations, the difference in annual costs would be made over five years.

The budgets were mostly paid for with annual provincial infrastructure grants.

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