The City of Prince Albert is a long way from building two new fire stations, but council has agreed two future sites.
Council voted in favour of a recommendation to allocate land on 28th Street West and 15th Avenue East for two new fire stations following a presentation by Fire Chief Kris Olsen at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting.
Olsen told council the City’s current fire station at 76 15th St. E. met the needs of the community when it was originally built in 1975, but Prince Albert’s continued growth through the years has led to extended response times far beyond the national standard.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710, fire crews must be able to respond to a call within 4 minutes no less than 90 per cent of the time. With only the current station available, Prince Albert fire fighters can only reach 5,625 civic addresses out of 11,939 in the City within 4 minutes, 47.1 per cent of the time.
Two City-owned locations have been proposed by Administration for additional fire stations, one at 15th Avenue East across from Lutheran Messiah Church and one on a section of land directly south of the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse on 28th Street West.
Olsen said the property on the east end of the city was identified in previous reports as a suitable location for a new fire station. In a report from 2007, data showed that if a station was placed further north than 15th Street, response time to the Crescent Acres area would slow, and if a station was placed further south than 22nd Street, response time to River Street would be reduced. The proposed station will cover the entirety of Prince Albert’s east side, from River Street to Sunshine Road to Marquis Road.
The rationale for the West Hill proposed site is that it covers the West Flat all the way down to Macarthur Drive, the West Hill Master Plan and future developments, said Olsen. While the station will only cover 4,346 civic addresses 36.4 per cent of the time per the NFPA 1710, he assured that number will rise with the potential growth of the West Hill area.
With all three stations up and running, Prince Albert fire fighters will be able to cover 11,400 civic addresses within 4 minutes, 95.5 per cent of the time.
Olsen listed some hurdles that municipalities may face when looking at developing a new fire station. Things like when the correct time to build is and where a suitable location may be, funding a land purchase, capital fund use, buying of equipment and staffing issues, are financial decisions that Council must take into consideration.
“The good news that I’m here to tell Council today is that the land is ours, it’s the City of Prince Albert’s land that’s being requested. We have the staff and because of the forethinking of this Council and the Councils previous, we have the Capital Fleet Reserve, and we currently have the equipment to staff these stations,” said Olsen.
Councillor Tony Head said with the increasing of fire fighter staff by three positions in 2023, the City is in a better position to move ahead with three stations but there will be future challenges when looking at costs of the buildings, grants and funding.
City Council voted in favour of Administration’s recommendation, with plans for the motion to come back for final approval at an upcoming Council meeting.