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Emergency Service Plans to Build, Rebuild, Replace Facilities

Emergency Service Plans to Build, Rebuild, Replace Facilities

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Winnipeg Free Press via YellowBrix

February 05, 2010

WINNIPEG 0 If you’re old, inconvenient or simply out of shape, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service wants to get rid of you.

The city’s emergency service has unveiled a four-year plan to replace five outmoded or inconveniently located fire-paramedic stations, rebuild two deteriorating buildings in the same location and build two new facilities to serve new suburbs.

According to a report that comes before city councillors on Monday, roughly one third of the city’s 31 fire-paramedic stations are “reaching the end of their practical application life” or are located in places “no longer deemed acceptable by today’s emergency-response standards.”

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None of the buildings is actually falling apart. But maintenance costs in some of the structures are skyrocketing to the point where replacement makes more sense than repairs.

“They’re getting to the point where their heating systems are less and less efficient and we’re having to put more and more money in to maintain roofs,” deputy chief Reid Douglas said Thursday in an interview.

The station-replacement plan will take place in two stages, with two relocations, one rebuild and a brand-new station all planned for this year.

Only $2.9 million exists in the city’s capital budget to accomplish all of this in 2010. The actual cost is bound to be higher, but the report that comes before city council does not include a price tag for the work.

“We’ve left a blank canvas in there,” said Douglas, explaining that a series of requests for proposals will be issued to private construction firms following Monday’s meeting.

The city may enter into public-private partnerships to conduct some of the work, he said. Or it may choose conventional financing, if that turns out to be cheaper.

The work to be conducted this year involves the relocation of Station 11 in St. James and Station 12 in River Heights, the reconstruction of Station 18 in Charleswood and the construction of a new station near the new southeast Winnipeg suburb of Sage Creek.

St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal, who’s been lobbying for this new station since he returned to council in 2006, said he was pleased to see it’s finally coming but concerned the construction plan does not include a start date.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, however, said he’s confident all the 2010 work can be accomplished.

“I like the fact they’ve done their homework, I like what they’re presenting and I’m sure they’ll do whatever they can to get it built this year,” Katz said.

The second phase of the plan, slated to take place in 2012 and 2013, calls for three more relocations, another rebuild and another new station. Two of those relocations will eliminate stations that are located in places that hamper emergency response times, the fire-paramedic service states in its report.

The fire-paramedic service’s goal is to be able to send an emergency vehicle to any city property within 4.5 minutes. Right now, most of the city can be reached in less than 3.5 minutes, but response times for the outlying fringes of some residential areas are five minutes or longer.

The construction of a Sage Creek station will eliminate the city’s biggest trouble spot, according to a response-time map prepared by the fire-paramedic service.