By Laura Keil

June 29th 2010

The Valemount Fire Hall is getting a face-lift this summer, the first phase of a project that will add a water hose tower, garage, back laneway and women’s washrooms, which will be installed for the first time to replace the co-ed washrooms. The offices and training classroom will be expanded by 240 square feet, as the office currently houses three desks, with one chair preventing the office door from closing.

“The biggest issue is there isn’t enough room,” Valemount fire chief Rick Lalonde says. “We have a larger crew now.”

Valemount Fire Chief Rick Lalonde examines illustrations of the fire hall upgrades which have already begun.

The first phase of construction will add a 30-foot by 80-foot section and last several months, says Donna Munt manager of public safety for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. The cost of the first phase is just over $202,000; the second phase will upgrade the electrical, mechanical and plumbing; the third phase may be the insulation and vapour barrier, and the fourth phase would be painting and other minor upgrades.

The Fire Hall building was completed in 1984, before highway rescue was added as a mandate for the fire squad in Valemount, Munt says.

“They are operating two services out of a location that originally operated only one service.”

This way they can minimize costs for both services by running them out of the same building.

Lalonde says right now they lay the wet hose on the floor to dry, meaning the hose is out of service temporarily and they must have additional hose on standby. The hose tower will allow them to hang up the hose and dry it faster in the tower, which will be outfitted with fans. He says the building design also fits in with the Village’s theme.

“It takes the box look away from it.”

He says they can also use the hose tower for rescue training.

The renovations will allow the fire hall to save money as well, he says, since the electrical heating system will be replaced by a high-efficiency water boiler. The truck bay has to be kept at about 18 degrees.

Lalonde says he anticipates they will heat the whole building plus the addition for the same cost as now, which is about $14,000 a year.