UPDATE – New fire hall promises reduced response time

  • May. 6, 2011 10:00 a.m.

A new fire hall is in the works for Central Saanich and the public will have another chance to take a look at the plans prior to the counter-petition process.

The district completed a Fire Hall Location Review, which confirmed that a second fire station is needed to improve  safety coverage and response times for the south half of the district, particularly in the Keating and Brentwood areas.

“This will be built for emergency preparedness,” said mayor Jack Mar. “The new headquarters will be big enough for the fire department into the future.”

The location of the new fire hall, on Keating X Road, close to the intersection of West Saanich Road, would increase response time for the department by as much as 50 per cent.

“Our response time in the Benvenuto area up into Tanner Ridge and the Keating Industrial Park is way above normal,” said Central Saanich Fire Chief Ron French. “It should take 10 minutes and sometimes takes 17 or 18 minutes. What could be a small fire when it started, by the time we get there could be a total loss. For firefighters it’s all about getting there quickly.”

French said the volunteers recently tackled a blaze on Oldfield Road where the fire had reached a critical point just as they arrived. “We got there and the back door blew open just as the guys got to it and were going in. If we can get there before the flash-over point it’s safer. You’ve got to remember these are volunteers, not career guys making huge money, being paid to take huge risks — we have to make it as safe as possible for them.”

Although they are volunteers, the Central Saanich crew is well trained and the new fire hall will increase their ability to practise for a variety of emergencies.

“The four-storey training tower is about 45 feet tall. It gives us everything we need to do our rappelling and ladder work. Each one of the levels has a different style of window or door so we can train on patio doors and other types of windows, there was a lot of thought people put into the design,” said French.

Since the original design went to the public for viewing, some changes have been made. “The biggest changes after the public open house discussions with the neighbours has been work on the bioswales (landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water) to capture and recycle water on the site; and to soften the visual effect,” French said.

The plans for the new fire hall include a four-storey tower, enough space for eight fire trucks, a large training room, conference room and office space.

Members of the public are invited to attend an open house on Wednesday, May 11, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Fire Training Centre in the Central Saanich municipal hall, 1903 Mount Newton X Road. The architect will be providing a presentation on the project design at 6:30 p.m.

A bylaw may be passed allowing the district to borrow up to $8,895,727 for the project. Those opposed to the borrowing must fill out an official elector response form.

The Alternative Approval Process (AAP) began on April 27, with the first Public Notice in the Peninsula News Review. Members of the public are welcome to go to the Municipal Hall to view copies of the plans anytime during the AAP.

At least 10 per cent of the electors signing elector response forms that would prevent council from adopting the bylaw without first obtaining approval through a referendum.

The AAP is a legislative process, the process details can be found in the Public Notice posted at district of Central Saanich Municipal Hall and on the district’s website.

– with files