For a number of years, the Township has recognized that Firehall 1 in Millbrook has outgrown its physical space. Kudos are due to the Fire Chief and the firefighters for working in such confined quarters and for utilizing every inch of space. The extension of water and wastewater pipes up to the Township office has presented a clear opportunity to relocate.
At the July 4th council meeting, Chief Bill Balfour gave Council an update on the design and costing for replacing Firehall 1. Council back in 2015 approved an RFP (request for proposal) to be sent out. It resulted in Alpaino Architecture Inc being awarded the contract to assist with design and costing issues. For details on the report you can visit the Township website and go to the agenda/minutes for July 4th and go to section 11.2 Report Fire 2016-02 Fire station design and costing pp.123 – 182 at Cavan Monaghan.net.
The desired location was to attach the firehall to the gymnasium portion of the Township office. This presented some unique issues as the firehall would be split level to accommodate proper entry and egress from the facility for firetrucks. The architect clearly indicated that significant increases in costing would result. The bottom line is that approximate cost projections were set at 5.2 million dollars. Talk about sticker shock! Needless to say, this was well beyond what Council had been prepared to entertain. Clearly a step back to the proverbial “drawing board” was in order.
It was brought to Council’s attention that Trent Lakes Township (formerly Galway-Cavendish-Harvey) had just opened a brand new fire station, this past June, in Nogies Creek, just east of Bobcaygeon, on Peterborough County road 36.
As we had done for Community Centre ideas, we arranged for a visit. What was there cost? Would it meet our specific requirements? On August 11th as special council meeting was called and Chief Balfour arranged for Council and staff to visit the Trent Lakes Fire Hall and ask questions. It was an incredibly fruitful visit, as Trent Lakes Fire Chief Don Mitchell and Deputy Fire Chief, Steve Brookbank shared with us details about their experience, from planning, costing and building.
First impressions, were that it was an impressive, modern building, that was scalable, and was done for a much more reasonable price tag of just over 2 million dollars!
Even more impressive was that they self-funded the project. Integral to our discussions was the question of how they were able to keep costs reasonable. They established the space they needed based on the number of bays and rooms for storage and worked from there. According to the building code, once a certain threshold is met in square footage and new set of rules and regulations is triggered, costs increase significantly. The key was to determine the imprint needed and adjust accordingly. They needed a training room, office space and a kitchenette. It was here that they adjusted the size and it kept them within a size that didn’t automatically trigger additional costs. An added bonus was that it was within a certain square footage that didn’t require an architect: even more savings.
So, where do we go from here? It’s clear a reassessment will be made as to the exact placement for the Fire hall. The good news is that officials at Trent Lakes have said they will share the plans and details of their new Fire hall. If you wish to see the Fire hall in
Trent Lakes, a public open house will be held on Saturday September 17th, from 10am to Noon at 760 Peterborough County Rd. 36.
By Tim Belch