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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Construction on Fire Station #2 progressing


by Sylene Argent

Due to great winter weather, progress on the construction of Essex Fire Station #2, which primarily serves the Gesto and McGregor areas, has continued as planned.

  Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel said all the steel supports, guardrails, and a walkway, have been installed on the 8300-square foot facility, being built on the corner of County Road 15 and North Malden Road.

In addition, last week, the interior cement work was completed.

  The decision to build the new station and move its location, which is currently located in Gesto on County Road 12, was made through the results of a study that highlighted needs for better response times. In addition, a Facility Audit Report determined the current facility does not meet the needs of Essex Fire & Rescue Services for a host of reasons.

  “Hopefully, in the next week or two, we will be seeing some roofing material come in, and they should be roofing the facility. At the end of the month, and the first part of next month, doors and windows should be coming,” Arnel updated on the project’s progress. “It’ll be nice to see once the roof gets on it.”

  After that point, he noted there will not be vast changes from the outside as work will then continue from the inside.

  “Right now, as it stands, we are still on target, for hopefully some time in April, in getting into the facility,” Arnel said, noting once the new building is closed in, workers should not be hindered by the weather too much.

  Essex Fire & Rescue is working with Architecttura Inc. and Bear Construction and Engineering Inc. on the project. Site meetings are being held via Zoom.

  “Right now, we have no complaints. They are doing a wonderful job for us,” Arnel commented. “Things seem to be going well.”

  Mother Nature, he said, has cooperated during the build. To date, there have been decent temperatures and not a lot of rain or snow, which has allowed the project to progress as planned.

  “Excitement is starting to build in the Fire Station. The guys are [saying] ‘It is really coming along, Chief.’ It is nice to get that excitement. It has been good. We can’t wait and hopefully, when opening day comes, we are able to at least gather a little bit,” he said of the pandemic’s regulations.

  Reasons the new Fire Station project was even a go ahead include because apparatuses do not fit in the current station properly, and all the bunker gear gets contaminated by firetrucks when they start up. The new facility will have an air-exchange system that will ensure there is no bad air in the building. There will also be a gear room, where firefighters can dress in their equipment. Currently, firefighters at Station #2 have to get dressed next to the fire truck, sometimes as it is pulling out of the building. 

  The new facility will also have 2.5 bays, indoor parking for five fire service vehicles, an exhaust system, gender-neutral washrooms with stall walls going right down to the floor, and a larger training room that will accommodate all of Essex Fire & Rescue’s around 60 firefighters.

  In addition, this will be a disaster relief facility, Arnel noted, adding if something would happen at nearby nuclear plants, Station #2 will be a reception centre or decontamination spot.

  In the 2020 Town of Essex Budget, $2.7M was allocated to long-term debt for the new Station #2 Fire Hall. The budget was subsequently increased $709,182, due to higher-than-expected costs, including adding grading and a swale to the property. Prevention of erosion had to be considered and roof anchors needed to be added. Wood prices, asphalt, and steel prices had also gone up.