The new fire station in St. Clements was officially declared open for service last Saturday.
The $1.3-million project boasts additional storage space, a SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) fill station, and a large front room that serves as a fire museum to pay homage to decades and generations of firefighting in Wellesley Township.
Local dignitaries and hundreds of community members gathered at the 2671 Herrgott Rd. location for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“First and foremost, this represents our desire and commitment to protect our own community, to protect our homes, families, our pets, our property and our neighbourhoods,” said newly minted Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis.
Others in attendance included Wellesley fire chief Paul Redman, Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, regional chair Karen Redman, and Waterloo Regional Police chief Bryan Larkin.
Several delivered speeches congratulating Wellesley for the accomplishment, and recognizing all involved with the final product. Redman expressed gratitude towards the work of local firefighters.
“You’re the ones that run towards danger when the rest of us are retreating. You very much are the animation of what community means,” said Redman. “You’re here to serve and protect with your other first-line emergency professionals. … Thank you very much for keeping us safe.”
Community members were invited to take a tour of the new facility, which features a two-bay, drive-through fire hall, the township’s antique fire pumper, an antique fire handcart, and a display of historical items collected and saved across all three fire stations.
The new structure replaces an aging fire station built in 1979 at the same location. It was not built to post-disaster standards, lacked office and training space. Council did consider renovating the exterior walls of the building, but found little difference in the price between complete replacement and renovation.
The project was awarded to the Hawkesville-based organization Frey Building Contractors for just over $1 million back in February. It was paid for through a combination of township reserve funds and a $400,000 debenture payable over the next 10 years.
The aging structure was then demolished in the spring to make way for the new facility. The crew met its goal of completion of the project by fall 2019 despite several challenges along the way, said Frey Building Contractors project manager Justin Cole. The new building meets all standards under the Ontario Building Code and National Fire Protection Association guidelines.
“This will allow our Wellesley Township firefighters to serve this community in a safe and efficient manner for many years to come,” said Nowak.
“I am confident that our constituents are as proud as I am and grateful for the many services provided by the women and men of our Wellesley Township fire department.”
Other amenities include a large training room/kitchenette designed to accommodate 30 people, communications room, large storage room, work area, multiple unisex washrooms – one equipped with a shower, and another barrier-free.
The new amenities were requested by township fire officials and will make their jobs much easier moving forward. For example, the new fire hall will house all operational fire supplies and equipment in one central location.
Previously, most supplies were kept at the township office and were only accessible during weekdays. This made it difficult for a paid on-call department to replenish during non-business hours.
Now, local firefighters will have 24-hour access to medical supplies, extra bunker gear, and operational equipment.