Sidney Volunteer Fire Department are settling in to their impressive new home and say they are better prepared than ever to respond to emergencies.
The purpose built Community Safety Building cost $16,300,000 and involved coordination across the Town of Sidney’s different departments.
Sidney Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen travelled across Canada and the States, talking to chiefs and architects, before bringing back best practice techniques and the latest ways to increase efficiency.
The facility is sleek and modern, but robustly functional. Brushed concrete floors and large windows are complemented by a red motif that runs through the building. Entry to rooms is by electronic key fob and big televisions adorn walls, offering advice to visitors or the latest emergency information.
The two bywords in the project seem to be “multi-functionality” and “flow,” with the building’s design allowing personnel to swirl around the building from station to related station quickly.
“You need to design the building so that there is an expedient work flow to get the staff to the trucks quickly and there needs to be no cross contamination, so all the dirty areas in the building, gear room and outside [rooms] are on separate HVAC circuits [air flow system] so there is no mixing of clean and dirty air,” says Mikkelsen.
Upstairs there are understated meeting rooms, a training room with new computers, a large board room and spaces that can be partitioned off or opened up, using movable screens.
CREST emergency communication infrastructure is being added and BC Emergency Health Services’ ambulances are due to move in next door within the next few weeks. A seismic monitor nestled in the corner of one of the rooms is a reminder that this multi-agency hub is now the area’s Emergency Operations Centre.
Mikkelsen makes the point that volunteer fire services need to be fit-for-purpose and attractive to members. He sees his volunteers as “occupational athletes,” so has provided a small gym, as well as recreation areas and a kitchen. Four small dorm rooms have also been built, more for the future than now, demonstrating his commitment to plan for the future.
“With volunteers, if you create an environment where they want to be, when their pager goes off, they’re here,” he explains, “A lot of what we’re trying to create is a place they can take pride in, as well as keep fit.”
The building is striking for both its size and capabilities, with the large ground floor space housing the department’s fire trucks as well as having a number of ante rooms, with first aid kit and decontamination stations. A large training tower and mock apartment, for smoke rescue simulation, run up the side of the building.
Attention to detail has clearly been a focus of the project, with every nook and cranny utilized for something. The ground floor is V shaped for water run off, the traditional fireman’s pole replaced with a safer slide and two infra-red decontamination saunas were installed in efforts to help staff deal with heavy metal and toxins exposure.
The building will be open to the public July 1.
If you would like to donate to the department’s Muscular Dystrophy campaign call 250-656-2121.