The Pitt Meadows Fire Hall is about one-third the size that is recommended for a new building, council heard on Tuesday night. (City of Pitt Meadows)

Looking for a new fire hall site in Pitt Meadows

Lot and building are both too small says consultant

The next step in building a new $10 million fire hall in Pitt Meadows is to find a new site for it.

Council made two key decisions on Tuesday after hearing a report by a consultant who evaluated the existing facility.

Councillors decided Pitt Meadows will be served by only one hall, and also that it will find a site for a new one, rather than try relocate firefighters and their trucks and equipment while constructing on the existing site.

The new hall is a five-year project.

Kimberly Johnston, the consultant, did a spatial assessment of the existing fire hall and said it is about one-third of the size that the city needs.

A new fire hall should be built at 21,000 square feet, for a 50-year lifespan.

The existing fire hall is 6,600 square feet.

“You can see the gap … between where you are today and where you need to be,” said Johnston.

Apparatus bays have limited physical space, “creating safety and operational hazards for the crews,” she said.

She said the department has more and larger equipment, and needs more space to fulfill upgraded industry standards.

For example, the department should have an area where turnout gear is stored, where firefighters can quickly change and then get into their trucks.

Right now, the gear is stored in the truck bays, where vehicle exhaust is considered a toxin and a carcinogen.

Modern standards would not allow that, and she said there should be proper facilities to wash and dry gear.

“The idea around decontamination has changed,” she said.

The building does not meet post-disaster standards, and is not seismically complaint with the B.C. Building Code. It was built in 1983, and had seismic upgrade to the apparatus bays in 1999.

Those seismic upgrades are now considered out of date.

Johnston said the concrete brick building is “very susceptible to a seismic event.”

The site itself is too small, she said, noting it is 0.63 acres in size, and has 25 parking spaces for a full muster of 40 firefighters. There is no drive-through access into bays, limited training area, and the hall is surrounded by residential neighbours on two sides.

If a new hall is built there, she said the building would cover the entire developable area.

She recommended the city needs a 1.5 acre site, but the ideal one would be 1.9 acres, would offer 45 parking spaces to handle crew, and a full-sized apron for trucks to pull out of the bays completely and still be on the property.

She showed council images of the Central Saanich and Qualicum Beach fire halls which were approximately the same size recommended for Pitt Meadows, and were built for $300 per square foot, or about $6 million.

Pitt Meadows has budgeted $10 million for the new fire hall, to acquire land, build and equip the facility, said Fire Chief Don Jolley.

He said council was receptive to the proposal.

“We know this building has some significant shortfalls we’re managing through,” said Jolley. “It was never a Cadillac – it was built to hold a small volunteer fire department.”

He likes the plan for a single fire hall, as long as Canadian Pacific Railway follows through on its announced plans to put an underpass at the Harris Road railway crossing, so fire trucks do not get blocked by trains.

“One fire hall, with all the right equipment in one place, is the right plan,” he said.

Coun. Bruce Bell said the city should look at empty land beside Spirit Square. It has also been recently pitched as a location for a new pool.

He said airport land should also be considered.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita said firefighters should be part of the decision-making process.

“I would really like to hear what the firefighters have to say about this,” she said. “They live and breathe this every day.”

Coun. Bill Dingwall said the need is obvious.

“We’re about a third of the size of what we should be, so hats off to the fire department operating in that confined space,” said Dingwall. “I’ve been in the fire hall many, many times and clearly we’re in need of a new one.”

Jolley would like to see council with a new location by this summer, and those discussions will be held in private meetings. Design work is scheduled to begin in 2018, and construction in 2020 and 2021.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Maple Ridge continues the hunt for new industrial land

Since 2014, 203 acres of industrial land has been designated for future employment needs

Fraser health sends letter warning of possible COVID exposure at Maple Ridge school

Parents of students at Yennadon Elementary were told an individual at the school has contacted virus

LETTER:

Catch much more BC Votes 2020 coverage from the Black Press Media in days and weeks to come

Langley man arrested in connection with $264,000 drug and cash bust in Grand Prairie

Police have warrants out for Christine Emes and Christopher Gilliat, also from Langley

Former Maple Ridge resident is a finalist for 2020 CBC nonfiction prize

Garibaldi Secondary grad, Jonathan Poh, writes about second-hand clothing stores in Value Village

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read