Construction on the replacement fire hall is expected to begin this fall. (Ronan O’Doherty/ THE NEWS)

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Old Pitt Meadows firehall reduced to rubble

New building will be more than three times the size, and is expected to be completed by 2022

A demolition expert in a backhoe took apart the old Pitt Meadows firehall, chunk by chunk last week.

The building, which has stood on 122A Avenue near Harris Road since 1983, has seen much use through the years.

Fire chief Mike Larsson said for some of the members, seeing it knocked down will be bittersweet.

“But I’m just looking forward to the new hall,” he noted.

“For me, there’s no real emotional connection to the old place. It’s just bricks, right?

“The memories come with the people, and the stuff that was inside, and we’ve got all that over here.”

Mayor Bill Dingwall described the demolition as an “exciting milestone,” and a chance to reflect on the past as well as the present firefighters who have served the community from that hall during the past four decades.

“After years of planning, it’s time to build a modern firehall to meet the needs of our firefighters and community over the next 50 years,” Dingwall said.

In the meantime, Pitt Meadows Fire & Rescue Service is occupying a hangar at the city’s airport, while the new digs are constructed.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows airport site of temporary home for fire department

READ MORE: New Pitt Meadows fire hall in design stage

Larsson said they will be there until construction on the replacement firehall is completed, which is expected to be some time in 2022.

One of the most important improvements with the new hall is expected to be the space.

“The last hall was 6,500 square feet, and this one is going to be over 21,000,” the fire chief said, adding the old hall was quite cramped.

“We had to move equipment just to get dressed,” Larsson said, “We didn’t have a proper shower system, and the washing machine was in the washroom.”

The community was invited to join mayor and council on a virtual final tour of the old hall, to reflect on its many years of service to this community, and to watch the building walls come down as they embark on the next chapter for the fire department.

Once complete, the new three-storey, 25,000 square-foot facility with a four-storey hose tower will also include the city’s new emergency operations centre.

The new hall will also have living quarters and sleeping quarters for when the department starts providing 24/7 coverage, and there will be more offices.

Larsson also said the city’s emergency operations centre will move into the building, too.

Safety upgrades will be paramount.

“For the old building the only seismic upgrades were in the bay, so none of the other stuff was designed with earthquakes in mind.

“It just wasn’t up to code.”

After the new hall is completed, Larsson said they will start building some new memories in the place.

“We’re very excited to get in there when it’s done,” he said.

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