The future of the Queenston fire hall will be reviewed by Niagara-on-the-Lake’s town staff who will investigate if combining the St. Davids and Queenston fire stations is a viable idea.
NOTL council approved a town staff report on the Queenston station at the committee of the whole general meeting Monday. A formal decision has still to be made at the next council meeting on Feb. 24.
Some of the other recommendations in the report included investigating potential locations and developing a funding strategy for a new consolidated fire station and analyzing the St. Davids facility and its operations.
Amalgamation of two fire halls has been in discussion since at least 1971, the report says. At the time, there were also two reports from the Office of the Fire Marshal recommending amalgamating Station 2 in St. Davids and Station 4 in Queenston.
One of the earlier reports, prepared presumably by a fire chief sometime in the 1970s, also suggested firefighters would resign “en masse” if amalgamation was forced onto them.
During Monday’s meeting, Coun. Allan Bisback asked the town’s fire chief Nick Ruller for his take on it.
Ruller said there was a meeting held for about 40 firefighters from all five stations on Sunday where they had an opportunity to ask questions about the report.
“There is definitely an emotional attachment that comes from our members. They’re members of the community, they invested a lot into the organization,” Ruller said.
“I think the membership is understanding of the information … Overall, I’m definitely not seeing that type of concern amongst our members.”
The 5,200-square-foot fire hall in Queenston was built around 1977.
It fails to meet current standards in regard to health and safety and doesn’t have enough space to operate effectively. The station doesn’t have a separate bunker gear storage room, a direct capture diesel exhaust removal system, an office for the district chief, a shower and a change room for female firefighters, a decontamination room, fitness area, janitorial room and automated backup power, town staff said in the report.
The demand for service within District 4 (Queenston) has remained relatively consistent, according to the report. Over the past 15 years, Queenston personnel have been dispatched to incidents across the town on an average of 128 times each year.
In 2019, the station’s resources were dispatched 58 times in total, representing a 55 per cent decrease in demand compared to the 15-year average.
“Although Station 4 resources have seen a decline in their utilization on initial responses, the firefighters and apparatus prove valuable to provide coverage and surge capacity for the municipality during a large-scale incident,” staff reported.
The 2017 building condition assessment of Queenston’s fire hall, prepared by WalterFedy architecture and engineering firm, estimated the station would require $572,100 in total up until 2046 for repair and maintenance costs.
The town’s fire and emergency services department presented two options to council: to adopt the report as recommended or to receive the report as information only.
Town staff recommended choosing the first option as it would allow council to make an “informed decision” in the future regarding the Queenston fire station.