It was a chance for Mayor Lyn Hall and senior staff to field a host of questions, both digitally and in person, about a proposed new fire hall to replace Fire Hall #1 downtown.
The City is hoping a referendum will give it the go-ahead to borrow $15 million dollars to build the new hall, which would be located on Massey Drive adjacent to the Family Y of Northern BC. In fact, that choice location came up more than once. The General Manager of Planning and Development Services, Ian Wells, says four or five locations were looked at, some on City-owned property that would not have added costs, and other private properties, which would have added to the cost of the project. But the Massey Drive location was chosen because of its ideal ability to get to a fire within its prescribed area within eight minutes.
Don Mitchell with Don Mitchell and Associates outlined the significance of the eight-minute response time.
“There is very good data that tells us that if we can respond within eight minutes, we can expect to hold a fire to the Room of Origin. And, when we can hold a fire to the Room of Origin, we can expect 25 injuries per thousand fires. But if we arrive after eight minutes and the fire has spread beyond the Room of Origin, the number of injuries goes from 25 per thousand to 64 per thousand fires,” he told the panel. “We also know that fire deaths occurred a little bit less than two per thousand fires if we respond within eight minutes. If we respond after eight minutes, we can expect about ten times that much, or 22.7 fatalities per thousand.”
There were also questions about the Emergency Operations Centre, which is currently housed in Fire Hall #1, in light of this summer’s wildfire response. And it was seen as totally inadequate for modern EOC standards.
When asked why the City did not pursue funding from either the federal and provincial government, the panel was told fire hall replacement projects don’t fall into the traditional funding guidelines, but that won’t stop the City from pursuing some funds, in light of the summer’s wildfires.
“We’re off to the Union of BC Municipalities and, because of our involvement in the wildfire response, providing support to the Cariboo evacuees, we are going to try to make a pitch to the provincial government that the Fire Hall receive some funding because of the EOC that’s going to be located in it,” explained Kathleen Soltis, City Manager. But she says that the only option really available to the City in terms of funding.
This is the first of two digital town hall meetings. The next will be tomorrow evening, beginning at 6 p.m. and it will look at the proposed replacement of the Four Seasons Pool.