Photo by Don Fennell
Richmond Fire-Rescue and local paramedics have a history of collaboration. So working under one roof seem like a natural next step.
The new Fire Hall No. 3 and North Ambulance Station marks the first such combined initiative in a major urban centre in B.C.
“The opening of the Cambie Fire Hall marks a key milestone in the City of Richmond’s continuing campaign to upgrade our public safety infrastructure,” says Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “It is the fourth of five new Richmond fire halls built within just over a decade, which represents a major investment in ensuring we remain a safe community. We’re also delighted to share this facility with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) as it will further enhance public safety in Richmond.”
BCEHS executive vice-president Linda Lupini is equally bullish on the partnership.
“This modern facility will support the critical role BCEHS paramedics play in providing patient care to the community, and enhance our working relationship with Richmond Fire-Rescue,” says Lupini. “The increased space also makes this one of the largest ambulance stations in the Lower Mainland, providing large new crew quarters and a quiet room that will help paramedics decompress after responding to a call.”
BCEHS has signed a 20-year lease with the city, allowing the two agencies to share a single purpose-built facility and co-share some common spaces, and provide a number of operational and financial efficiencies. In addition, it provides the potential for joint training activities.
At the public grand opening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, attendees will be able to take part in self-guided tours and fun family activities, enjoy free safety demonstrations by firefighters and paramedics, explore a variety of fire and ambulance vehicles, meet members of the BCEHS paramedic bike squad, and view Richmond Fire-Rescue’s on-site training facility and specialized mechanics shop.
A brief official opening ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., followed by dedication of the public art instillation created by artist Daniel Laskarin. Parking is limited so event attendees are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transit to the event.
The new $20.7 million fire hall replaces the 55-year-old Bridgeport Fire Hall.
At 2,415 square metres, the new three-storey building is larger than the standard Richmond fire hall and “built for expansion,” says Brian MacLeod, community relations officer at Richmond Fire-Rescue.
It also houses Richmond Fire-Rescue’s new training facility and specialized mechanics shop, and is sustainably designed to be post-disaster rated ensuring it remains operable in an emergency.
One unique feature is state-of-the-art rapid opening bay doors to help speed response in emergencies, a significant advantage over the traditional roll-up model.
“It allows the trucks to get out way faster,” says MacLeod.
B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic Roger Mah says the added space makes a big difference. The bay has space for up to six ambulances, making it one of the biggest stations in the Lower Mainland.
It’s also one of the busiest.
“I started at the old version of this station almost 29 years ago and it was busy then,” says Mah. “Now we have a population of 220,000. That’s a lot of people, and with that we also have had a shift in demographics and a very active seniors society. And you can’t get away from the fact that when you’re older you’re open to more serious medical problems, so our call volume goes up.”
Between 2014 to 2016, the call volume in Richmond increased by 10 per cent from 12,800 to 14,200.
The new facility also features a public art installation that reflects the purposes of the fire hall and ambulance station.
Based on the “Fire Triangle,” Daniel Laskarin’s art comprises three interweaved/interlocked triangular panels standing on a raised circular platform. The three panels form a three-sided pyramid, each perforated with water-jet cut text: FIRE-RESCUE, AMBULANCE and COMMUNITY.
During the past decade, Richmond has built three other new fire halls at Hamilton, Sea Island and Steveston and completed major renovations and seismic upgrading on another. A fifth new hall, Brighouse No. 1, is now under construction and scheduled to open later this year.