New home for Cranbrook firefighters

Firefighter Bill Munroe, city councillors Diana J. Scott and Jim Wavrecan, mayor Scott Manjak, Chief Wayne Price and firefighters Brian Rusnell, Sean Baldwin and Dean Eldrid cut the ceremonial ribbon for Cranbrook’s new firehall. - Kerstin Renner
Firefighter Bill Munroe, city councillors Diana J. Scott and Jim Wavrecan, mayor Scott Manjak, Chief Wayne Price and firefighters Brian Rusnell, Sean Baldwin and Dean Eldrid cut the ceremonial ribbon for Cranbrook’s new firehall.
— image credit: Kerstin Renner

An open house for the community as well as a ribbon cutting ceremony with city officials and representatives from Fire & Emergency Services marked the official opening of Cranbrook’s new and much improved fire hall. Formerly known as Fire Hall #2, the building was renovated and expanded over the past months to house the entire fire department. Staff and equipment were moved to the new location from the old fire hall downtown on March 31.

“Council is very pleased with the new fire hall,” stated Cranbrook mayor Scott Manjak at the ribbon cutting ceremony on April 15. He sees the project as a symbol of the appreciation and the city’s commitment to its firefighters. He said the location on 2nd Street South is also an important factor. “It also services Area C and that’s an important part of our commitment to serving the region,” Manjak explained.

“I think we got tremendous value,” said Chief Wayne Price, director of Fire & Emergency Services and he quipped “the city stole the facility for that price.”

The new fire hall is extremely energy efficient, healthy and sensitive to the needs of the department members.

One example of that, Price pointed out, is the fact that there is a lot of natural light in areas that are generally staffed through the day. “In a lot of areas, there is no need for artificial light,” he said.

The hall is designed so it can be divided into three distinct areas, administration, the truck base and the operational area. All three are completely separate, yet they can fulfill the same functions, Price stated. During the day, dispatch activities are handled by the administration, however, there is a full dispatch area in the operational area as well and all members of the department are trained to use it.

The updated dispatch area is very timely, Price added, as the department will be moving from a call forward system to a full dispatch system for the 15 Kootenay communities it serves. Starting in June, Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services will be handling all aspects of call management from the new facility.

The administration area is also designed to ensure business continuity for city operations, meaning should city hall be non-operational, essential staff can be moved to the fire hall with minimal disturbance of operations. “We can effectively move all city staff in and have it operational in two hours,” Price said.

Other features of the new hall include a highly efficient air and heating system that has fresh air coming into the building at all times, as well as a state-of-the-art ventilation and exhaust system in the truck base to limit exhaust from entering the operational area.

The training room is set up for table top exercises and fire department meetings. With capabilities for video conferencing and webinars, it will also be valuable as a corporate training facility, Price stated. Living quarters, including resting areas, bathrooms, a kitchen and a library, complete the building.

Price said he expects the facility will be adequate for the next 40 to 60 years and he thanked city council and chief administrative officer Will Pearce for their support in seeing this project through in a timely manner. “Had we not started the project when we did, I believe, we would not see this type of value,” he felt. The city added a special thanks to architect Christine Ross, general contractor Scuka Enterprises as well as all sub-contractors and trades persons who contributed to the hall.

Despite the quality of the new facility, Price admitted the move from the old fire hall downtown was not easy, especially for the senior members of the department. He likened the process to a young man leaving his parents home to go on to the next phase of his life. After the first weeks in the new building, Price said, it has become clear that there was no life left in the old building for the level of emergency services the department needs to provide.

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