The firefighters stationed at the District of North Vancouver’s Fire Hall No. 3 have finally moved into brand-new digs after close to a year crammed into trailers in the hall’s parking area.
The dingy, single-storey structure that stood on Montroyal Boulevard for nearly 40 years was stripped almost to its foundations in November 2010 in preparation for a $1.8-million rebuild. Over the following 12 months, the four firefighters based at the site were forced to operate out of portable structures while construction was underway. They were allowed back in February this year once the main work was complete, but it wasn’t until this week that the project was officially wrapped up. On Tuesday, the hall celebrated its official reopening.
The refurbished hall is a major improvement, said assistant fire chief Jim Bonneville, leading a tour of the site Monday.
“It was kind of lousy in the middle of winter, in the rainy season, (to get) out of the trailer, through the back door, down the stairs and into the truck,” he said, referring to the less-than-ideal conditions firefighters worked under during the renovation. “This is a big step up.”
The old building, a relic of the early 1970s had been starting to show its years, he said. The structure was suffering from wear and tear, and its layout was increasingly out of date: Sleeping quarters were dorm style; bathroom and showering facilities were communal — making no allowance for women joining the force — and there was little space for exercise, first aid training or other activities. The building was also riddled with asbestos.
The refurbished structure, which includes a new, 2,200-square-foot second storey, was designed to address these issues. The asbestos is gone; the new sleeping quarters are private; there’s a spacious gym, private bathrooms, a new meeting room and other upgrades.
It’s also designed to be more environmentally sustainable. A small geothermal plant helps supplement the building’s heating requirements from a local, renewable source and solar panels on the roof help reduce its demands on the electrical grid. The inclusion of recycled building materials and the addition of efficient lighting and plumbing also reduce the facility’s ecological footprint, Bonneville noted.
In a statement to media, district Mayor Richard Walton touted the new hall as a boon to the district as a whole.
“The innovations and service improvements installed at the Montroyal Fire Hall not only benefit the citizens of the Montroyal and Upper Capilano neighbourhoods; they also represent the district’s commitment to the safety of our entire community,” he said.