Chestermere Fire Services (CFS) is working to meet population demand by reviewing the feasibility of building a second fire hall, Station 117.
The current fire hall was built in 2008 when Chestermere’s population was approximately 12,000.
“With our current population and tourism numbers, the facility presents challenges to the ability to fully serve fire and rescue service needs and there is no capacity to accommodate growth up to this point or into the future,” CFS Fire Jamie Coutts council presentation said.
Coutts explained at the Sept. 13 council meeting, that a second fire station would allow CFS to align with Chestermere’s growing population and improve response time to certain areas of the city by expanding resources.
“There are challenges ahead. The challenges are to build a second station, find a good place for it, find some land that we can afford and access, and build something that makes sense for size,” Coutts said. “Figuring out what we actually need, what we’re going to put there, what the growth around it looks like, and how that fire station interacts with the city around it is key.”
Coutts estimated that the land for Station 117 would cost $2 million, the building would cost $10 million, the fire engine would cost $1 million, quint aerial would cost $1.5 million, training grounds would cost $500,000, the rapid response would cost $350,000, and a response vehicle would cost $100,000, with an estimated total of $15,450,000.
“It’s a big number, it’s a scary number as you grow a city and expand a fire service,” Coutts said. “This takes a long time, I’m not panicking, but I’m excited to be here talking about it. The time is now for us to have these discussions and start to figure out the pieces like what we can afford, and where it has to go.”
Although a second fire station is a priority for Coutts, he is focused on ensuring staffing levels can handle call volume and the types of calls, while ensuring CFS has the right type of equipment needed to respond to emergencies.
“Stations and trucks don’t necessarily put out the fires, the people do,” Coutts said.
Going forward, an analysis and study are being completed to determine the best site location where CFS can provide fire and rescue services for the long-term.
“Given its importance to the community, especially during community-wide emergencies, finding the most appropriate location requires careful analysis,” Coutts’ presentation said.
CFS is recommending that a second fire station be strategically placed in Chestermere, with the second site allowing CFS to follow and meet the 10-minute rule when responding to an emergency.
By following the 10-minute rule, generally, CFS has seven minutes to respond to the emergency location, after receiving the call, processing, and getting the firefighters in the truck.
“Those seven minutes don’t belong to us, it belongs to the people waiting for us,” Coutts said.
However, in some areas of the city with narrow roadways, it can be difficult for CFS to get to the location.
“It’s trying to make sure we have a healthy response, while not putting other people in danger to get there, but we’re getting the right resources there as quickly as we can,” Coutts said “By luck, or by design, the first station because it’s attached to Chestermere Boulevard really helped out, it was a good connection to the city.”
The process to build a second fire station includes a master service plan, reviewing the proposed population growth and proposed driving time, designing the building, determining what per cent of the population would benefit from the new station, determining the capital cost of the building and equipment required, and reviewing if grant funding is available.
“For me, the number one priority is keeping the residents and visitors of the city safe, and keeping our firefighters from getting hurt,” Coutts said. “All of our plans are wrapped around community safety.”