New Fire Hall Costs More Than Double
Cumberland County Council voted, yesterday, to proceed with construction of two new fire stations despite a 265% increase in cost.
Council budgeted $2.4 million to construct fire stations in Springhill and Parrsboro, but before they could even draw plans, the Chief Administrative Officer said, “Reality hit in terms of per square foot cost of constructing a modern fire hall built to today’s standards,” and the budget blossomed to $6,357,400.
The original budget was based on the recent experience in Shinimicas where a new and larger fire hall was built to replace the previous station that was destroyed by fire.
Greg Herrett advised council that a new station must adhere to new a national building code for fire halls, including post disaster standards, complete separation of the fire apparatus, equipment, and personal protective equipment from the meeting, training, and community areas of the building.
Herrett also noted that fire trucks are bigger today than when these stations were build — Springhill in 1972 and Parrsboro in 1989 — and both will serve as hubs to other nearby fire departments for training and other support services.
Offering his support, Councillor Rod Gilroy said he was very pleased to see council supporting and modernising the fire service. He added, “Hopefully the public get some understanding through this process of what it actually costs to run a modern fire service in the County of Cumberland.”
Council agreed to the budget increase, requiring borrowing of about $3.9 million over a 20 year period.
The CAO noted that the county’s debt servicing would run about 5%, well below the province’s allowable threshold of 15%. Herrett also suggested the twenty year amortisation would spread the cost among those who will benefit from the new facilities over those years.
The county will now call for proposals based on what the hub stations will need and what the two fire departments may want. Herrett says, “We’re hoping to get one contractor/architect consortium, one team, to design and construct both buildings, hoping there will be some economies of scale.”
The two fire stations and recent tenders for new rescue trucks follow the county’s review of the fire service and its subsequent commitment to renewal over the next twenty years.
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