The Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department will be building a new hall and the conceptual design of the building will be used by the Regional District of Nanaimo as a template for a standard design of future fire halls. — DVFD photo

Regional District of Nanaimo to create conceptual designs for fire halls

Committee endorses standardized design of buildings

The Regional District of Nanaimo is coming up with a conceptual design that it intends to apply to all fire halls it plans to build in the future.

Over the next five to 10 years, the regional district may have to build six new fire halls in fire protection areas that include Extension, south of Nanaimo. Other halls could be built in Dashwood, Coombs, Hilliers, Errington and Bow Horn Bay. Some may be small satellite halls while others may be larger halls that will feature administration offices, training rooms, kitchen, public-use space and other amenities.

Traditionally when the RDN builds a new fire hall, it hires a consultant to come up with a design and plans. The cost usually equates to about 10 per cent of the overall construction cost, which can vary depending on the materials used and other features of the building.

Director of transportation and emergency services Daniel Pearce told the committee of the whole at a meeting Tuesday that one of the most affordable material options the RDN could consider is pre-fabricated engineered steel construction. Using this type of material for a satellite fire hall, he said, would cost around $1.5 million while a bigger building would be $2.5 million or more.

That means the archictectural and engineering costs at 10 per cent will range between $150,000 to $250,000 or more for each hall if designed individually, Pearce said.

To reduce the cost, Pearce suggested the RDN standardize the design of fire halls. With the Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department building set to be replaced, Pearce said, there is an opportunity to develop a functional and cost-efficient fire hall design that would serve as a template that could be applied to future construction of fire halls.

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Pearce said the idea of standardized fire halls was discussed by local fire chiefs during their meetings. He indicated that the support and interest is there.

Dashwood fire department has budgeted $100,000 for conceptual designs and drawings for its new hall. A request for proposal was initiated and a successful bidder with an offer of around $64,000 was accepted. RDN is now working with Dashwood to use the conceptual planning process to create the template for a standard design of fire halls. The plans and drawings are expected to be completed by September this year.

A standard design for future fire halls could save the RDN around $75,000 to $125,000 by not having to incur individual design costs.

The committee of the whole fully endorsed staff’s recommendation.

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