Ashcroft council will apply for an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program grant to renovate the village’s 63-year-old fire hall.
The 3,000-sq. ft hall, built as a joint museum-fire hall in 1958, is in need of various upgrades “not only to bring it up to more useable status but legal code as well,” acting chief Tyler Bell told council on Jan. 25.
The upgrades, estimated to cost $700,000, include everything from repairing the roof and installing a new generator to replacing the ceiling in the hall with a T-bar, relocating the washers and drying station, building new men’s and women’s washrooms with shower facilities, and installing a hydrant and asphalt area at the rear of the truck bay for a truck wash area.
The grant application also suggests bumping out the side wall of the truck bay to construct a hose drying area with racks and relocate the equipment lockers. At the moment the truck bay area is too crowded with the new larger fire trucks, storage, and dressing area.
The grant funding stream provides for retrofits, repairs, and upgrades to local government buildings including fire halls.
Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden said she drove around the fire hall recently and said it was interesting to see how much extra space was available to expand the site. She noted the hall was “state of the art in its day” but is now a third smaller than what’s needed to house modern-day equipment.
Bell said the department is “really hopeful for the fire hall renovations.” He noted the department will also need to replace its rescue truck and tender 4 in the next few years, as they are showing signs of mechanical failure.
“We’re going to continue to work with everyone in this room,” Bell said. “It’s been really positive. We’re establishing a working group with councillors being put on that so we can keep the communications and work going well.”
Roden and Coun. Nadine Davenport will sit on a fire department sustainability working group.
The Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department is also slated for extensive training this year.
In his annual fire department review, Bell said the department received a $52,000 grant from the Canadian Red Cross to complete an external operations certificate to make them compliant with the B.C. Structure Firefighter Competency and Training Playbook.
The department also has training courses planned for throughout the year, as well as Highway Rescue practices every third weekend. “The upcoming year will be filled with extensive training at all levels,” he told Ashcroft council.
Although it was a difficult year due to COVID-19 and staff changes, Bell noted the department was able to host its first “Guns and Hoses” hockey game last year with other first responders, raising enough funds to purchase and install 30 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in houses in the area.
The fire department is currently sitting at 19 members, with five in the probationary period and one junior member who will become full-time in June, Bell said. Two members — Tyler Fitzpatrick and Steve Anderson — recently received long-term service awards for 20 years and 10 years respectively. Four more members are expected to receive long-term service awards this year, Bell said.
The department responded to 30 calls last year, down from the usual 50, and did 80 inspections, which is “awesome,” Bell said.