George May and Axel Joosting

East Sooke Fire Hall nearing completion

East Sooke’s fire department will be operating from a state-of-the-art facility as early as this fall

East Sooke’s fire department will be operating from a state-of-the-art facility as early as this fall, thanks to a new fire hall that is not only bigger but safer as well.

At 88×88 feet, the new three-storey fire hall is large enough to fit a gym and training area, cafeteria and lockers, radio room and classrooms.

This includes seven vehicles: a fire engine, tender and pump, a tanker, a first responder vehicle, fire chief’s vehicle, as well as a utility vehicle with a trailer attached. A new vehicle is expected to join the fire-fighting fleet in October as well.

There will be more than ample space for the 20 or so volunteer firefighters currently active in East Sooke, something that can’t be said for the current facility, said George May, chair of the East Sooke Fire Commission and a retired professor of physics and electronics.

“We had a requirement for new facilities, because we don’t have room for all the trucks required by the fire protection regulations, so finally, about 19 years ago, we talked to everyone, see what they wanted, see what kind of facilities are required and then we finally made a decision,” May said.

Considering the new fire hall has been a project 19 years in the making, he said he’s excited to finally see it become a reality.

“Once that roof went up, I almost couldn’t believe it. These guys work fast,” May said, referring to Verity Construction, the crew building the structure from the ground up and the same developer behind the CRD headquarters in Sooke.

In the coming weeks, two sets of stairs will arrive for various sections of the building’s interior such as the lobby, radio room and upstairs office wing. The bigger assemblies are built off-site and hauled in by modular form – kind of like a giant Lego set that comes together module by module.

Structurally, May said the building is for the most part incombustible as well as earthquake-proof. A water line for direct access is also part of the facility’s design.

That, of course, includes a unique section of the building, a three-storey structure designed to represent a modern tower; this is where fire crew will train and sharpen their skills when it comes to scaling office towers and taller buildings.

All this comes down to a total $2.2 million, including paperwork, and licensing, May noted, adding the hardware alone cost for the building part of it is about $1.5 million.

“Unfortunately it takes a lot of engineering costs, a lot of architectural costs, licensing costs and CRD management costs, but having a safe and modern fire-fighting facility is well worth it in the long run,” May said.

The facility is expected to be completed by late September, and begin operating as early as October.