Firewise Consulting has released a report and recommendations for fire coverage in Area H in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Area H Director Mary Marcotte, said the report confirms what people have known all along. They need a new firehall and there’s no time to waste as the building’s stability is in question for even a moderate earthquake.
“It more or less confirmed the studies and information we had done before,” said Marcotte, adding they have not had a chance to talk to Firewise.
In its recommendations, Firewise states that when it comes to the hall, “That time is of the essence to replace the number 1 fire hall and should be done as soon as possible; That the number 1 fire hall replacement project be considered separately from a satellite fire hall; and that a satellite fire hall be constructed in the Coffin Point area.”
Fire Chief Jason DeJong said they did the study to get some third-party reassurance that a new hall is needed.
Staffing the Coffin Point satellite hall could be a concern and the report suggests turning to members of the Stz’uminus First Nation.
“It is a concern,” said DeJong. “It would have to be a partnership between everyone that lives down there (at Coffin Point) including the First Nations.”
The report goes on to outline the different areas the volunteer firefighters must cover and the risks involved.
Firewise notes it is a large area with significant farmland and many only have basic fire suppression systems. The coverage area could produce many different scenarios for the firefighters including, residential fires, marine fires and industrial fires at the new Mt. Hayes gas storage facility.
However, the department has a good mutual aid relationship with Ladysmith and Cedar.
In 2008, the projected cost for the new firehall was $2,567,717.25. The new projected price is $1,778,898.25. The decrease comes courtesy of a scaled-back, manufactured plan, but will still meet the department’s needs, said DeJong.
“The premise is still the main station. There’s no question it needs to be replaced. It is still a major upgrade to what we have now.”
The satellite station in Coffin Point, at 1,564 sq-ft, will cost around $847,880.67. Total cost, including fees, permits and site development, is pegged at $3,210,000.
Marcotte said they are still holding open houses, with the next one planned for the area around the Chuckwagon Market on June 23 at 7 p.m. at the firehall.
Once the public information sessions are complete in early July, a referendum question will be drafted and passed through its appropriate levels, including the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board and the province, before being attached to the general November ballot.