The Village of Telkwa is getting a brand new fire hall, which they hope will significantly reduce response times during emergency calls.
The $150,000 hall, which was approved by village council during last Monday’s meeting, will be built on 1193 Cottonwood Street by the tennis courts. It will be a 36-foot-wide and 44-foot-long two-bay back-in garage.
“We’re trying to get the most bang for our buck. We’re making it something that’s perfectly functional but not over the top,” said fire chief Randy Cunningham, adding it will be a basic wood-frame and steel-clad building.
The department also plans on purchasing a new multi-functional $308,000 fire truck, which will help them with their medical and motor vehicle incident calls.
The truck is approximately 10 feet tall, while the ceiling of the existing fire hall is only eight feet tall with a seven foot door.
The new hall will stand approximately 14 feet tall and will be large enough to house the truck.
Currently, Telkwa has two fire halls: one at Coalmine Road and Birch Street, that will be disposed of once the new hall is built, with hall one just off Highway 16 that will continue to be used for fire department meetings and training.
Cunningham said they explored many options, including tearing down the old hall and replacing it with the new one; the foundation of the old hall was not in good enough shape to do so.
“It was basically a much cheaper venture to put up a new hall rather than tear down the old one,” he said, noting that it will be built on land that the village already owns, reducing their cost significantly.
According to Cunningham, for insurance reasons, the village must have fire protection on both sides of the river and railway tracks, which is why they will continue to have two halls.
“As a community, we have to maintain two halls . . . one on each side of the river,” he said.
Response times now are roughly between five to eight minutes; the new hall will decrease those times to only a couple of minutes.
“It will change our response times very dramatically to structure fires. About 70 per cent of our membership lives on the south side of the river, which is essentially the side of the river where the new hall is at,” said Cunningham.
“Right now, they’re having to respond to hall one, which is across from Midway [Service.],” he said.
“So they have to come over the river, over the railroad tracks, across the highway and drive down to hall one and get their gear on and respond to the fire. Most of these guys will be within a few minutes of their home.”
After receiving a final permit from BC Hydro, the project was given the green light and the department is hoping to begin construction within a couple of weeks.
Cunningham estimated it will take approximately three to four months to complete and said the building should last for over 50 years.