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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Fire & Rescue hoping to move into new Station #2 in July

by Sylene Argent

As construction continues on the new 8300-square foot Fire Station # 2 facility, Essex Fire & Rescue is eyeing the-end-of July to officially move in.

  “We are hoping for that,” Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel said. Arnel visited the facility last week to overlook the progress and it appears COVID-19 delay issues have been worked through. The drywall for the facility is around 85 percent complete, crews are working on installing showers and tile flooring, painting, and putting up steel siding in the interior apparatus bay.

  Recently, sidewalks and a cement pad were added to the rear of the facility, and in the next week or two, asphalt work may be completed. In addition, hydro will be hooked up in the near future.   

Photo submitted by Essex Fire Chief, Rick Arnel.

  “The fire crew at Station # 2, they are ecstatic,” Arnel said, as construction nears completion. “I’m getting a lot of good feedback from the other two stations as well, because the classroom is big enough to hold all 60 [firefighters with the Town of Essex] at the same time. We are hearing from the other two stations, ‘This is great. We will all be able to train together.’

  “Excitement is good, especially in this business,” Arnel commented. Anytime personnel can be engaged and they get excited about things going on, “That means we are doing the right thing.”

  The new facility will offer 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 gear room, where firefighters can dress in their equipment. In addition, this will be a disaster relief facility.

  Arnel said he visits the construction site fairly often, and has nothing but good things to say about Bear Construction and Engineering Inc. “They have done a terrific job for us and they have been more than fair with us and worked very well for us.”

  Station # 2, which serves the Colchester North and McGregor areas, will no longer be located in Gesto, as the new facility is being built at 3575 North Malden Road, at the County Road 15 intersection. Arnel said there has been talks of using the former fire facility on County Road 12 to house some of Essex’s administration, but a concrete plan is not in place yet.

  The decision to build the new station and move its location 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.

  There are plans to build a new fire station in Harrow, with the budget item currently in the capital forecast for 2025 or 2026, Arnel said. The Harrow and McGregor-based stations, he added, were built in the ‘60s and ‘70s and are too small for current equipment needs.

  Reasons the new Fire Station project was given 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.

  He hopes to host some kind of ribbon cutting ceremony, once construction has been completed on the new facility. “I believe it is important we do that, because the community is the one that built it, not me. I am just managing that. The Mayor and Council approved the monies to do this,” Arnel said.

  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.

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