Draft artist rendering of Nanaimo’s new fire station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (City of Nanaimo image)

New Nanaimo fire hall plans unveiled

Nanaimo Fire Rescue hopes new station will be operational by 2022

If all goes according to plan, Nanaimo’s newest fire station could be operational by 2022.

The city is in the process of replacing the existing Fire Station No. 1 at 666 Fitzwilliam St. with a brand-new 14,500-square-foot facility for a cost of $17-million.

During Monday’s council meeting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Karen Fry provided an update to councillors about the status of the station and showed off renderings of what the new station will look.

“We want it to be a strong building,” she said.

According to renderings and blueprints available on the city’s website, the new fire station will have three floors, dorm rooms, a fitness area, an emergency communications centre and offices. There will also be a a First Nations welcome pole and public square with “coal mining inspired seating” located outside of the station.

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Plans about what to do with the city’s aging fire station No. 1 had been in the works for years. Funding for the project was secured by the previous council using an alternative approval process where residents were required to notify the city if they were opposed to a bylaw authorizing the city to borrow $17 million for the new station.

Fire Station No. 1 was constructed in 1966 and does not meet current provincial building code, despite receiving a seismic upgrade in 2001.

Fry told councillors the new station will serve as a base of operations for various divisions within the department – currently working in separate buildings – and dispatchers.

“All of our chief officers will be in there with our fire operations crews, our dispatch and our emergency coordinations and our inspectors,” she said, adding that the facility would also house post-disaster emergency services.

The decision to build the new station in the parking lot instead of tearing down the old building first was made in order to reduce costs and reduce risk, said Fry.

“It’s less expensive to build in a parking lot and less risky,” she said. “Having to move firefighters … and dispatch operations to a new temporary facility in another location would really interrupt the service.”

Fry said the new station will change its address as a result of the move, adding that the new location at 618 Fitzwilliam will offers better views of the neighbourhood.

“It will allow us better sight lines onto Milton Street. It will also allow our fire apparatus to do a complete 360 turn in that fire apron area as we call it, which really will stop it from going out into the traffic to turn around,” she said.

Once the new station is built and operational, the existing structure will be demolished.

When it came to the design of the fire station, Fry said she wanted to pay tribute to Nanaimo’s coal mining and indigenous history.

“It’s really going to be clear that it is a public building,” she said, later adding, “Instead of just a big square building, we want people to know it’s a fire station.”







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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