A $400,000 expansion to the Warman Fire Hall will help firefighters shave precious minutes off their response times to emergency calls, according to Warman Fire Chief Russ Austin.
Two additional bays, each measuring 20 feet wide and 80 feet long, with overhead doors at both ends, are currently under construction on the north end of the fire hall. The project by general contractor Fire Cliff Developments is about 50 per cent complete, and firefighters are hoping to be using the new bays by the end of the summer.
Austin said the additional bays will allow the fire department to have all its vehicles ready to go at a moment’s notice when a call comes in. Currently, vehicles sometimes have to be moved to allow needed equipment to exit the building.
“We use different vehicles for different calls, depending on what’s needed,” said Austin. “It could be a medical call, a wildland fire, or a structure fire. Sometimes our initial response time is delayed a bit if we have to move certain vehicles to get at other ones.
“Once this addition is done, we won’t have to do that anymore. We can save several minutes on response time, and in a world where minutes can save lives, that’s pretty important.”
The expansion will provide sufficient capacity for the next 20 years, said Austin.
“It will give us enough room to house and maintain our equipment for the next two decades,” he said.
The two new bays will be used for the fire department’s largest trucks. With overhead doors at both ends, vehicles can be driven in one end and out the other, eliminating the need for backing up a 60-foot-long ladder truck.
“The amount of traffic on Centennial Boulevard isn’t likely to decrease in the coming years,” said Austin. “And during peak times, it can be pretty dangerous to be stopping the truck in the street and backing it up.
“The new bays will allow us to drive directly out to a call, and when we come back, we can enter through the south gate and straight into the building via the west door.”
The fire hall was built in 2003, at a time when Warman was about 3,000 population. Its north wall was designed with expansion in mind, noted Austin.
“It was framed in such a way that there is actually no structural support on the north wall, so we can remove that wall in its entirety and it will be a wide open space.”
The contractors were working on completing the metal roof, installing insulation and electrical wiring on the addition this week. A new concrete floor will be laid down soon. Temporary covers will be put over the doors to make the fire hall secure while contractors complete the interior work over the next several weeks.