A map showing the current, temporary and future locations of Fernie Fire and Rescue. (Map courtesy of Google maps, annotations by The Free Press)

A map showing the current, temporary and future locations of Fernie Fire and Rescue. (Map courtesy of Google maps, annotations by The Free Press)

Fernie Fire and Rescue to temporarily relocate

The current building on 3rd Ave has long been unfit for purpose

Fernie Fire and Rescue will be kicking up in new digs in the short term, with the department set to temporarily relocate from its current location on 3rd Ave to the Fernie Operations Centre on Railway Ave.

In a presentation to the last committee of the whole meeting of 2021 on Dec. 20, Acting Chief Brendan Morgan explained that the department would be using two sites at the Operations Centre, and adding two more buildings which will stay after they have moved on to a permanent location.

Morgan said that the move was required in order to provide a safer working environment for Fire and Rescue personnel.

“The present location is untenable, as indicated in numerous reports over the last 25 years,” he said.

The current home of Fernie Fire and Rescue on 3rd Ave is a repurposed tire store, and has been used as the fire station since 1979, but has long since become unsuitable.

Seven reports have highlighted problems and shortcomings with the building, with the oldest from 1997 noting that there were design load issues with the roof. Another report from 2011 said ventilation was inadequate, an internal report from 2013 found that to bring the building into line with regulations, it would need a total overhaul.

Ventilation was again pinged in 2016, and in that same year the roof was reported to not meet the original building code requirements from 1970. A 2018 report found the building to be ‘broadly non-compliant’ with the BC Building Code, and a 2019 report said the buildings roof was not capable of meeting minimum snow load requirements.

In a presentation, Ernie Polsom of Firewise Consulting said that the building on 3rds time was up, not just because of safety but suitability as well due to the small size of the current plot.

“There’s no questioning that the facility does not support modern fire service operations,” he said. ‘There’s a tonne of missing tings in the facility, ranging from decontamination areas to public access areas.”

He said that with changed regulations, “the needs of the fire department and the role of the fire station have changed, and to be frank the building is simply not up to that.”

Polsom said that while the move to the temporary home for Fernie Fire and Rescue was an imperfect one, it was better than staying put.

With the temporary move, Fernie Fire ans Rescue will occupy the former public works office, and a second building for storing vehicles. Another two buildings will be added at the operations centre, with one for storing firefighting clothing and equipment, and another for storing smaller vehicles.

He said that the move was being planned to have no interruption to Fernie Fire and Rescue operations or responses.

While there is no timeline for when the move will take place, Morgan said that “we’er hoping to be moved in the next few months.”

Planning for the new permanent location for Fernie Fire and Rescue at 902 2nd Ave will begin in earnest during 2022.

READ MORE: City eliminates highway location for Fernie fire hall

READ MORE: Land owner proposes highway lot for fire hall development

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