By Kevin J Sabo For the Advance
Councillors heard from a delegation from Castor Fire Rescue at the regular Council meeting held Oct 16.
Castor Fire Chief Patrick Kelly and firefighters Quinton Beaumont and Lonny Nelner attended the council meeting to provide an update on the current fire hall, and the renovations occurring to the new building which they aim to occupy next year.
“We’re tight,” said Beaumont, then indicating that their longest piece of equipment measured at just over 58 feet in length. The current building, which has been renovated over the years and has no further room to expand, measures at just 59 feet long.
The current fire hall was built in 1981 at an estimated cost of $84,000. With firefighting equipment getting bigger over the years, the department has outgrown their space. Since 2014 the department had been in the process of looking for a new home.
They have toured recently built structures in Hanna, Blackfalds, and Bentley, finding that the newly built structures were all in-between $1 million and $1.7 million.
The old Coil Works building came available in 2016, and it was decided that with a 75-foot by 20-foot addition to the front of the building and some interior modifications, the building would be able to serve as the department’s new fire hall. The town and the fire department began negotiating with the owner for the next year, then when a local business became interested in acquiring the back half of the property, the property was purchased at a cost of $325,000.
Phase one began this fall and will continue through the winter, expanding the equipment bays, and phase two is projected to start in the fall of 2019, with the construction of a classroom and offices.
So far, through the Town of Castor and through the Fire Department fund-raiser held in 2016, the $325,000 was for the purchase was raised, as was an additional $144,000 being committed by the town for phase 1. The total projected cost for the building and both phases of the renovation come in around $745,000, an estimated savings of $450,000 over building a new structure.
Castor Fire Rescue is an important link in the safety of the residents of Castor, and The County of Paintearth. As of Oct. 1, Castor Fire Rescue has responded to 23 emergency calls, accounting for 406 man-hours of on-scene time. In addition, the 17 members of Castor Fire Rescue have logged over 260 hours of training at their twice a month Tuesday evening training nights and other courses.
Paintearth County Council accepted the report and blueprints from the delegation as information before continuing the meeting. After an in-camera session Council resumed regular session and voted unanimously to fund an additional $50,000 to Castor Fire Rescue on top of their normal yearly contribution. This additional funding is enough to complete phase one in its entirety and allow the department to focus on raising funds to complete phase two.