As part of World Town Planning Day, special guests of the City of Cold Lake were invited on a bus tour of five key builds throughout the city; including 4-Wing New Housing Builds, the FCSS-Parent Link Centre, Tri-City Senior Community, Cold Lake Travel Centre and the Cold Lake South Fire Hall.
Passengers of the tour were given an exclusive update on the facilities progress from contractor Andrew Langstone of Krawford Construction, Cold Lake Fire Rescue Fire Chief Jeff Fellow, and City of Cold Lake Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kevin Nagoya.
Langstone says the build is going well, “we broke ground in February, we did some demolition and site clearing.” There was three buildings on the current site; including the former south fire hall. “We’re hoping to turn it over and have it ready or the City in Spring 2016.” The build is ahead of schedule, originally Krawford Construction was looking at the end of May as the competition date and are now expecting it to be finished in mid-April.
Fire Chief Jeff Fallow says the build has the whole department excited and grateful to Mayor Craig Copeland, City Council and City senior administrative for the new hall. “It’s been long-overdue for the fire fighters of Cold Lake. This is a great project, it’s not very often [a City] gets to build a structure like this.”
Fallows explains the department was able to tour the building a week prior, “they’re very excited about moving in.” The Move in date is planned for the spring, Chief Fallow is hoping to be able to host a double celebration, “we have an International Fire Fighter’s Day that we host every year, May 2nd. The hope is that we’ll have our ceremony here.”
The hall will be used by the Fire Rescue, EMS, and Emergency Management. It features a dormitory/living quarters to support a full-time staff, kitchen, commons area, training tower, and fire pole. There is also the possibility for municipal services, such as peace officers, to move into the facility, as well.
“It’s a 24 hour facility with an independent generator that could run all of the City’s emergency infrastructure; such as computer systems and radios,” in case of catastrophic emergencies and disasters, the fire hall will be the command centre of the City’s emergency management.
The dorms are on the north side of the structure, which is also where the EMS will be stationed, explains Langstone, “the second floor is for EMS to work around the clock.” The south side has a similar area for Fire Rescue, Langstone explains the City currently does not run a full-time fire staff, “there’s potential for full-time fire rescue, there’s dorms up there, a kitchen & living area, and a gym. Looking forward to the expansion of the City and going to a full-time fire department.”
The fire hall is 17,500 square feet, complete with ten equipment bays, eight for Fire Rescue, two for EMS. The bays in the front are unique with glass sliding bay doors. Langstone explains the fire hall will be one of only two fire halls in Alberta that features these types of doors.
“It is a bit of a traditional look,” Chief Fallow explains the doors, “we wanted the public to see into the building as they drive by.”
The training tower is so large it actually needed some special permits, Langstone looks back at the situation with humour, “it goes up four stories. It’s tall enough to be in restricted air space, we were five feet too tall. We had to coordinate with NAV Canada and 4-Wing on the base in order to get the proper permits to build it. It’s a little bit taller than they give the green light to.”
“There’s been some growing pains,” explains Fallow, “taking down two buildings and putting this one in its place. Going underground and never really knowing what’s under there. But, I think we’ve turned a corner now and we’re looking forward.”
“The dial from the old fire hall was kept and it’s going to be the centre piece when you walk into the front foyer,” Fallow explains fire service is big on traditions and along with the dial they kept some of the brick from the former hall and have worked it into the new build.
“We are very fortunate that senior administration and City Council has provided us with the equipment to do the jobs that we need to do,” Fallows explains the department now has a waiting list to get into their service, due largely in part to the new fire hall.
There are plans in the works to eventually build out onto Highway 28/16th avenue so the trucks can exit directly onto the main stretch, explains Cold Lake CAO Kevin Nagoya, “we’re developing a strategy in our budget.” The City is working on configuring when the highway will need overlay, which hasn’t been done for ten years, explains Nagoya, “the strategy being developed is, do we go to the ultimate plan to phase in the Highway 28 twinning and build it out. That will accommodate the access from the highway to the fire hall.” There is wiring done, that would link traffic lights to the fire hall. Crews would have access to the lights to turn them on when trucks need emergency access to the highway.
The community has been very supportive of the build, says Fallow, “everywhere we go, the feedback is positive, it’s long-overdue and ‘you deserve it’.”
Geographically, the City needs two fire stations to support the community, so the north fire hall will remain open after the south fire hall opens. If the service ever goes full-time the south hall will serve as the main station; with two-thirds of the calls coming from the south side of Cold Lake.