Artist's rendering of the East Sooke Fire Hall

East Sooke’s fire hall speeding along

Newer, safer fire hall to be operational by early 2015

If you’ve driven along East Sooke Road recently you might have seen some land clearing and a sign reading: “Site of the new East Sooke Fire Hall.” A new fire hall is getting underway, and targeted operational date is in early 2015. The new fire hall will be located on East Sooke Road, east of Raglan Place.

This fire hall has been long in the making. There have been ongoing efforts from successive fire commissioners to replace the existing fire hall, but the necessary conditions came together in 2013 to make the dream a reality. Some of these conditions included the sale of land, which Brian White of the East Sooke Fire Commission said came at a “very satisfactory price.” An anonymous $40,000 donation moved things along nicely as well. White said many in the community also stepped up, reflecting a real community effort. Former Juan de Fuca area director Brian Henson contributed land clearing and Ramsay Milne helped with the burning of the brush and shrub. The CRD has also provided significant support.

According to White, the impetus behind this fast action came last spring, when an inspector from the Fire Underwriter’s Survey (FUS) came to the East Sooke Fire Hall and asked why they still operate from a fire hall that was inadequate way back in1994.

A CRD document dated February 2013 (“Proposed East Sooke Fire Hall”) addresses the need for a new fire hall, as the existing one was significantly below standards. It was deemed “antiquated” and “undersized,” and did not meet current building code requirements. Its proximity to a community park also posed safety concerns for children playing in the area. Further, it lacked drill and training areas, it could not serve as a post-disaster facility, and expansion or reconfiguring the existing structure was not possible.

After a successful referendum last summer, at which time East Sooke residents voted 339 to 138 in favour of the new fire hall, the focus has been on the planning and design of the hall.  A detailed Request for Proposals had nine firms respond.

David Nairne and Associates were the winning architects, and the decision was made to proceed with an all steel fireproof interior and exterior, because of the enhanced survivability of the building after a major earthquake or forest interface fire. Construction is slated to start in late June. The target date for a fully operational East Sooke fire hall is early 2015.

Dr. George May, the Chair of the East Sooke Fire Commission,  said, “the fire hall design  achieves the tests of affordability, long life, and capacity to survive a major fire and earthquake.  We expect this design to meet the needs of East Sooke for a long time to come.”

Besides the obvious benefits of providing a go-to place in case of tsunami or forest fire, said Brian White, the new fire hall will include a built-in water tank loading station for residents of East Sooke. The existing waterline will also be extended, to just before Anderson Cove.

With notes from Brian White, ESFCF

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