Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are we building a new Main Fire Hall? The old one seems to fit our needs.
The Main Hall on Grafton Road has served the community well, but it is time for something new.
The Main Fire Hall was built in 1969, and expanded in 1977. At the time there were two fire trucks and one ambulance. Over the years, population growth has affected infrastructure all over Bowen Island, and emergency response is no exception. The existing Hall is seismically unsound. The roof, heating, electrical and plumbing systems are all in bad shape. The septic field has failed.
The truck bays are unsafe and not up to current standards. The communication and equipment space is inadequate.
Also, we have just outgrown it. There is virtually no room for the level of training we need for our current membership of volunteer fire fighters, and there are not enough parking spaces to accommodate their vehicles when they are responding to a callout.
Many studies, including the Fire Underwriter’s Survey—which is the standard for assessing a community’s Fire Protection—have identified that the hall needs to be replaced. It’s time.
Why can’t we just fix the “old” hall?
In 2001, a study determined that the Fire Hall would not survive a moderate seismic event. The cost of strengthening the existing structure would be prohibitive—not an effective use of public funds considering all of the other shortcomings of the facility.
What about the “satellite” fire hall?
The 2007 Fire Underwriter’s Survey determined that the Island required a water tanker in order to provide fire protection to areas without hydrants, primarily on the western side of the Island. The existing Main Fire Hall could not house a tanker, so the location for the Satellite Hall was determined to best serve those needs. The Satellite Hall will continue to house the tanker truck and provide outdoor training space.
Can’t we do all the training in the “old” hall?
Training takes place indoors and outdoors. The indoor space at the current Fire Hall is insufficient for the increased level of training required for today’s firefighters.
While the Satellite Hall on Adams Road has an outdoor area that can be used for training, it lacks the inside room, equipment and tables to set up as classroom style.
I don’t like the location. Is that part of the referendum decision?
No. The referendum is needed for electors to approve the Municipality borrowing up to $3 million to build the new Fire Hall and Emergency Operations Centre. The Lot 3 location was chosen because it will be the easiest, most cost effective place on public land to build.
Why is the proposed new Main Fire Hall larger than the one we already have?
There are two components to a fire hall—operational and support.
The operational side includes the apparatus bays, lockers for turnout (protective) gear, space for changing into turnout gear, equipment servicing areas and supply storage.
The support area includes a classroom (which is also the space that could be quickly transformed into an Emergency Operations Centre), and shared offices for the Chief, Deputy Chief and Training Officer. It also includes a communications room, kitchen, washrooms, day room, and a supplies area for Emergency Social Services.
Being an Island community presents a unique challenge in providing fire protection. In many rural communities connected by road, there is an agreement referred to as Mutual Aid. This means each community may not need to have their own specialized equipment because if necessary, they can borrow it from a nearby community that does. Town A may request Town B’s Tanker, aerial apparatus, other equipment and even firefighters. Bowen Island does not have that capability. We are on our own and we must have equipment available for any reasonable eventuality.
If we build this new Hall, what will happen to the old Hall? Why not sell the land to help pay for the new Hall?
The Grafton Road property was donated by the Davies family for a Fire Hall. If the referendum is approved, in order to honour this donation we will be consulting with the Davies family and the community for a future civic use of the site.
Why can’t we start small and have the facility expand as we grow?
The space required for the fire apparatus is determined by the associated fire risk of our community. The three double truck bays proposed are required by the present and foreseeable needs. The new site on Lot 3 would be large enough to allow for future expansion.
Does this mean all emergency services will be under one roof?
No. While there may be some savings in having police and ambulance services combined with fire protection in a single facility, there are concerns about all essential services being vulnerable to a single catastrophic event.
What is the lifespan of this proposed fire hall?
The proposed structure will serve our community for the next 50 years.
How much will this new hall cost and how will that translate into increased taxes?
An estimated $3 million, which will cost the average property owner about $68 a year over the next 30 years.
Will my insurance rates be affected?
Most insurance policies have higher premiums for residential structures that are more than 8 km away from the nearest fire hall. For commercial structures the threshold is 5 km.
Placing the satellite hall on the west side of the Island allowed us to locate the proposed Main Fire Hall closer to Snug Cove, where most of the dense residential and commercial structures are located—and where the greatest risk exists.
How much land does the Fire Hall require?
About an acre. Fire trucks are large, they need a certain amount of space to turn and manoeuvre in and out of the bays.
Our volunteer fire fighters responding to a callout need a place to park and this could take up to thirty spaces.
In the event of an Emergency Operations Centre being activated, we would need even more parking spaces.
Who will be building the new Fire Hall?
If the referendum is approved, tenders will be issued for construction and sub-trades. Local trades will be utilized whenever possible.