A new, first-of-its-kind fire station solution will be erected in southeast Calgary next year that could help fill a much-needed void in suburban growth areas.
After a two-alarm fire destroyed one home under construction and damaged another in the 200 block of Legacy Mount SE last Sunday, area residents raised concerns about fire protection in the area.
The Calgary Firefighters Association echoed the concern in multiple social media posts in relation to the Legacy fire.
The area’s councillor, Ward 14’s Peter Demong, also responded on social media via the Walden Community Association Facebook page.
In that post, Demong explained there is a long-term plan to have a permanent fire station built at Walden Court. Right now, the closest station is Midnapore First Station 26. It’s a direct shot down Macleod Trail South.
“The slow build out of communities in the area however, has pushed that plan out to the point where a temporary solution is required,” Demong wrote.
That temporary solution will come in the form of a Lethbridge-built Extreme Portable Buildings.
Innovative idea for temp fire station, said Demong
Cost for the temporary building is under $2 million for a fully-operational station, complete with offices, dorms, bathrooms and furnished, according to information provided to LiveWire Calgary. There’s a much smaller one-unit version used for an ambulance bay in southwest Calgary.
Newer Calgary communities have had temporary fire buildings until the area’s build-out warrants a permanent location. However, he said often the prior version of the temporary fire halls weren’t useable at another location.
“So, what somebody came up with was the idea of using basically a purpose-built temporary fire hall that’s affordable,” Demong told LiveWire Calgary.
“The whole gist of it is that when we need a temporary fire hall, until we’ve got the capital requirement to build a full fire hall, to put this on site is perfectly acceptable to use until such time as a permanent one is built. Then it can be picked up and moved over to the next phase where you need a temporary fire hall.”
He said the city needs to search for more innovative, cost-saving measures like this in light of ongoing budget pains.
Upcoming budget adjustments mean uncertainty
One Calgary budget changes are coming up Tuesday and Demong was asked if there was a concern about being able to afford the capital cost of the temporary fire hall, but not be able to staff it with firefighters.
Demong paused and then said he didn’t have a specific answer.
“But it’s one of those basic frontline services that we, as a growing city, we need to actually figure out how to do it because it’s one of those things – you just can’t not have fire protection,” Demong said.
In the context of last week’s debate at city hall around growth in Calgary’s suburban communities, Demong said areas like Walden and Legacy are some of the densest in the city and upon full build out, will be a huge property tax benefit.
And that’s when the permanent services – like a fire hall – will be built.
But Demong’s hoping the upcoming city hall budget debate isn’t one pitting urban versus suburban.
“We know what we have to do. We have to realize where we are and what we’re doing,” he said.
“Is there going to be a suburb and urban battle? I certainly hope not because we have to come up with solutions for the entire city.”
There’s no specific date set for the installation of the new portable Calgary fire station for the Walden area. Demong’s post suggested the goal was for it to be fully operational by spring of 2020.