New Station #2 fire hall in the works

- it is hoped shovel breaks ground this spring -

by Sylene Argent

Representatives of Essex Fire & Rescue and the Town of Essex have been working toward building a new fire station in McGregor for quite some time. It is hoped construction on the new 8,000-square foot Fire Station # 2 facility will start this spring.

  Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel said the new facility, once built, will no longer be in Gesto, but will be located at 3575 North Malden Road.  

  In April of 2018, the Town of Essex approved the purchase of property at the corner of County Road 15 and North Malden Road for the future station.

  The decision to acquire the property was a result of the Facility Audit Report on Station # 2 that Stephenson Engineering Ltd. conducted in November of 2016. The Facility Audit Report determined the current facility does not meet the needs of Essex Fire & Rescue Services.

Issues outlined in that 2016 report included a the lack of space in the current station, the lack of a proper exhaust system in the station’s apparatus bay, and the lack of an area to store and decontaminate personal protective equipment, a functional kitchen, and change rooms.

Arnel said the Master Fire Plan 2017-2021 highlighted the location of Fire Station # 2 should be looked at to improve response times. He said with the largest population of the area located in McGregor, which is where many of the firefighters live, Arnel does expect this new location will provide for better response times.

  Around a year ago, Essex Council awarded the Request for Proposal for Prime Consultant Services for McGregor’s new Fire Station to Architecttura Inc. Architects in the amount of $105,830.40.

  Getting the new facility started is not a fast process, Arnel noted. Last April, a Steering Committee for the project was created, and consists of firefighters and residents of McGregor. Since its formation, the Steering Committee members have looked at locking down what the design for the new facility would have to entail.   

  Arnel said, though the design has been completed, architects are now working on the construction drawing. It is hoped to get the Request for Proposals for construction of the building will out shortly.

  The plan is to have 2.5 bays included in the new facility, with indoor parking for five fire service vehicles, which will be larger than the current facility. It will also have an exhaust system, and will house a larger training room that will accommodate all of Essex Fire & Rescue’s around 60 firefighters at the same time, which will lead to more consistent training messages. The burn units, currently house at the Essex Water Treatment Plant, which are used also by neighbouring fire services and St. Clair College’s training program, will be moved to the North Malden location.

  The Steering Committee, Arnel said, decided the new facility will have a gender-neutral wash and shower facilities, with individual stalls.   

  Arnel is hoping the new facility will be ready for use before this Christmas, but noted it is difficult to predict construction periods.

  “We’re all excited,” Arnel said of the project. “We made it the most economical we could, with future growth in mind.”

  In the 2020 Town of Essex Budget, which has been approved in principal to date, $2.7M has been allocated to long-term debt and other funding sources for the new Station #2 Fire Hall.

  The Town of Essex has not yet determined what will become of the current Station # 2 fire hall, once it is no longer occupied by Essex Fire & Rescue.

  Arnel added that when looking at future budget projections, the Town currently has $2.5M projected for 2024 for an upgrade for Fire Hall # 3, which is located in Harrow. This station, he said, was deemed to be too small and not adequate for today’s fire apparatuses.