Sunday, October 16, 2011

River Heights Firehall

There probably hasn't been a time in recent Winnipeg history where so many firehalls were being constructed all at the same time. Three are planned for and being constructed. Not much imagination for individual design. They come from the same design as the Sage Creek station.

I wrote already about the decrepit Charleswood station. The River Heights one is getting up there in age as well as a two vehicle unit on Grosvenor Avenue surrounded by a bus loop. I have no idea of how the building is faring other than it has been there for many decades and aside from addition for hanging equipment to dry many, many years ago, it seems to have been left as is.

The new place is on Taylor Avenue as the picture above indicates. Location-wise, it is less than center in River Heights than it was. I am no expert in response times but coverage from St. James could be more of a problem with Route 90 being even more congested.

Everything along Kenaston remains up in the air so long as Kapyong Barracks and the St. James Bridge are not dealt with.

The big question long term will be productivity and effectiveness of a large city fire department. While there is large support for fire service, some halls are less busy than others. Careful consideration will have to be made about how to ensure safe coverage of the city while not having full-time pay for part-time work.

The move to make fire fighters into paramedics is good. However, fire fighters can't transfer patients to hospitals. We have seen in the last year fire crews tied up with paramedic calls while waiting for an ambulance. Not very effective service.

It remains to be seen whether we will have that rational discussion of how many people is just right. It is entirely possible that those who try to talk about it will be shouted down or threatened electorally.

In the meantime, equipment and firehalls need to be updated. There is no doubt many are crumbling.

The city will have to consider how it spends money though and know that any rise in overall staffing in the city has it costs and that might be letting infrastructure like firehalls crumble.


mrchristian said...

Good post.

For the fire dept open house on Saturday I visited No 1 on Ellen Street.

Now *that* is an outdated hall ca 1964 or so, considering the amount of new and specialty equipment it houses and the myriad of administrative functions that it hosts over and above your friendly neighbourhood fire station.

John Dobbin said...

I think this is evidence of the infrastructure deficit that holding the line on taxes has meant.

An honest debate on spending and staffing needs to happen. We are too geared to short term four year programs such as the firehalls. After this building boom, neglect for another decade or more?