City looking at new fire station

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on January 4, 2014
The back of the current city fire station is shown in this undated photo.
— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

CORNER BROOK  Rather than wait and see what happens, the City of Corner Brook is taking a “proactive” approach to fire services.

Mayor Charles Pender said there’s no doubt the needs of the city are changing in regards to fire protection and will even more when the new hospital is built off the Lewin Parkway.

That means the city is looking at what it will need to do to meet those needs and Pender said one thing is a new fire station.

“We’re just looking at the eventuality with the new hospital being built and new residential areas on Wheelers Road and up in that area we expect to expand,” said Pender. “And so we’re looking at longer-term planning. We’ll have to have a new fire station at some point.”

Pender noted the need for a new station doesn’t just come from the changing dynamics of the city.

“We know that there’s some issues with the building that we have now,” he said of the fire station which is situated at the end of Broadway and fronts onto the Lewin Parkway.

The building has served as the city’s lone fire station since the late 1990s when the then three fire stations on the east, west and Curling areas of the city were combined into one central station. The building was built in the early- to mid-’70s to serve as a bus depot and the back wall of the building is also a retaining wall for Broadway.

“There are some cracks that are being monitored,” said Pender.

He said the cracks are not major, but with a building that is getting close to 40 years old the city has to ask if it will be sufficient to meet the needs of the residents, business community and government infrastructure in the city.

“What we don’t want to do is find ourselves in a position a few years down the road where something happens to that retaining wall and instead of being proactive, like we’re trying to do now, and say what might be the possible need in the future, be caught in an emergency where something happens to that wall and we have to evacuate that fire station. Then we’re stuck.

“So we’d rather be proactive and say what are the possibilities.”

Right now Pender said the idea is the “conceptual” stages.

“We might build one in three years, we might build one in seven years. We know we’re going to need a new fire station at some point.”

In terms of location, Pender said one possible site is on Al’s Hill off O’Connell Drive where the city is planning to locate its new depot.

“That’s a very large site,” said Pender. “So instead of building two buildings,  can we build one building or can we put two buildings on the same site and save money in terms of water and sewer infrastructure and roads.”

Other possible locations include in the city’s industrial park or on Lundrigan Drive.

Pender added the location will depend on a number of factors including how to serve all areas of the city.

Pender said moving the fire station to the O’Connell Drive or Lewin Parkway area will affect response time to the east end of the city. He said the city still has the old station on Premier Drive and could look at reopening it and splitting the shifts to cover a second location to provide appropriate response times.

“What we want to do is look at the entire layout of the city, look at the dynamics and how a new hospital will change the way the city is laid out and other construction projects in other areas. And how does that change the need for fire response.”

Pender said a lot of what will happen depends on the hospital.

“When that starts moving then we can foresee that a large building like that and a construction project like that itself will require emergency response whether it’s accidents on the site or anything at all.”