Future fire hall and location ('Brinkworthy')
The 2020 Fire Station Baseline Needs Assessment (FireWise Consulting) consolidates numerous studies, reports, and assessments on the condition, suitability, and needs of the current building and site. This report also assesses the existing site, and various other possible relocation sites. Both, the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District Board of Trustees, and the Fire Rescue Advisory Committee of community volunteers, reviewed these reports and recommend rebuilding the main hall on a different site.
The report recommends a property located at 455 Lower Ganges Road (referred to as the Brinkworthy site, named for previous owners) as the preferred site. This site was donated to Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District in 2013.
In addition to already owning the land, the Brinkworthy site meets important fire protection and public safety criteria. It is central, allows for standard response times, and provides adequate space for both a new fire hall and vehicle access.
Fire facilities must serve the Island well into the mid-century (30-50 years from now). Options for a new fire hall need to consider BC Building codes and standards, WorkSafe BC requirements, legislative needs, operational/functional needs, future state, climate change, and siting considerations.
Fire halls are a community’s main resource for public safety and must be built to post-disaster standards: they must be resilient and withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, and be free from risk from forest fires and other natural disasters. There are specific regulations and building codes that guide construction and renovation of fire halls in B.C. For example, by law, fire halls in BC must be designed by a professional architect.
Space needs are determined through operational and functional needs. For example, trucks and other apparatus need to be housed and serviced, gear and equipment requires specific storage and cleaning spaces, and fire hoses require appropriate drying, cleaning, and storage space. Paid and volunteer fire fighters train regularly, and space to conduct both classroom and field training is necessary. Office and administration space must also be considered.
Cost is an important consideration for the Advisory Committee members and the Board of Trustees, who are also Island residents. Identifying potential costs is a key part of the process and one of the many criteria they will consider as they evaluate options.
The District is also Investigating potential partners and building cost-share arrangements.
If the project proceeds to a referendum, Salt Spring Island property owners will be provided with the best-known cost estimates of construction, the amount that needs to be borrowed, and how that could impact residential and commercial rate payers through property taxes.