Thunder Bay fire service hopes to maintain station status quo with new master plan
CBC News

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue is asking council to keep things as they are when it comes to a possible realignment of some city fire stations.

In a report going to city council on Monday night, the fire service is also recommending council approve the replacement of the Vickers Street fire hall; that, however, would be a long-term project, with the new building opening in 2032.

Monday's report is an update to the implementation of the Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Master Fire Plan, which was originally tabled in December 2020.

That plan was compiled by a consultant, and included a number of options, one of which was replacing the existing Vickers station with a smaller, two-bay building located nearby, and transferring the fire service's administration offices to the upper floor at North Central station on Water Street.

However, Thunder Bay fire Chief Greg Hankkio said the fire service's administration is not in favour of that plan for a number of reasons.

"Unfortunately, when the report was presented, there [were] no accurate financials that went along with those options," he said. 

Hankkio said moving the fire service's administration offices to North Central would require extensive renovations, and likely cost the city about $5 million.

While North Central does include more space, it's currently not configured as an administrative space, Hankkio said."It's got an emergency operations centre, there's a substantial locker space area, substantial eating area for the firefighters," he said.

That, he added, doesn't change the fact that Vickers station will still need to be replaced, as well.

"It's an older building," he said of Vickers. "We have 17 staff working here."

"It's not designed for that many people," Hankkio said. "We've got some ergonomic issues from a sloping floor."

"Some health and safety issues, storage issues. It's just it's really outlived its effectiveness as an administrative area."

Further, Hankkio said, replacing the Vickers station with a smaller building in a different location would cause issues in terms of response to fires in the south core; the city's north and south cores are the highest risk for fires, he said, which is due to a number of factors, including density and the age of the buildings and homes in those areas.

Hankkio said the fire service is also asking council to consider allowing it to lease space for its administrative offices.

"We realize there's additional operating costs associated with that," he said. "But if it works for us and we can function administratively, perhaps going forward in 2032, the cost to replace [Vickers] station is cut in half because we just need a standalone fire station at that point in time."

The report also recommends council provide the fire service with an additional $65,000 each year, which would be used for facility maintenance.

Monday's meeting of city council gets underway at 5:30 p.m.


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