Sarnia council has abandoned plans for a new south-end fire hall and has instead started major renovations to the station at the corner of Churchill and Scott roads.
An offer of free land from a Vidal Street industry for a new fire hall was turned down, says Sarnia Fire Chief John Kingyens.
“It was a very generous offer, but the location didn’t meet our response needs and would have changed our service level to the south end of Sarnia,” he said.
The condition of the 55-year-old Scott Road station has been a concern for years, especially after mould was discovered in the basement. It’s been at least seven years since council started debating what to do.
At one point, a total reconstruction was considered, especially after the land offer was made. A $1.3-million rebuild was on the table in 2008 but chopped from the budget.
This year, council approved a $795,000 renovation after Kingyens wrote a report strongly supporting the current location.
“From the present location we can access Indian Road and the city’s south end,” he said. “It’s also close to the industrial area and Aamjiwnaang.
“Scott Road is in the centre of a busy call area and we’d lose some of our coverage if we moved to Vidal Street.”
The chief said the department’s firefighters are also in favour of renovating the old station.
“And they’ll be happy when it’s done because it will be almost a new building and it will be in the best location,” he said. “An engineer’s report said the building is structurally sound. It just needs work.”
A new building would have cost more, including a $160,000 demolition, Kingyens said. “This will save money.”
The city awarded the contract to W.D. Lester Construction Services in Windsor earlier this month, and work has started.
When complete, the Scott Road fire hall will have drive-through truck access so fire trucks don’t have to back in, a new roof, new windows, new washrooms, and new drainage and tiling. The mould issue has been cleaned up, Kingyens said.
“It’s been slow to come to this point, but, when renovations are finished, it’s going to sparkle.”