Relocation of the south Lethbridge fire station and construction of a second fire station in west Lethbridge are being recommended to address community growth.
The recommendations, contained in in a new Fire Master Plan, would enable Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services to continue meeting their response mandates to a community that has grown substantially since the service expanded in 1980 to include a fourth fire station.
"The speed and depth of our emergency response capacity is critical for community safety," says Fire Chief Rich Hildebrand. "Response times will continue to increase as the city's population grows, as demographics change, and as the city's footprint grows. We also need to ensure that we continue to have the ability to quickly assemble an adequate number of firefighters and equipment to safely manage any fire event."
Hildebrand outlined the master plan to City Council members who met today as Finance Committee. Council members will consider the recommendations in May when they meet to deliberate which capital projects to include in the City's upcoming 2018-2020 Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
The department's service level goal for emergency events is a 10-minute total response time for the first-arriving emergency vehicle for 90 per cent of all emergency responses. This goal also includes the capacity to have 12-15 firefighters respond to safely manage a fire in a typical single-family home. This depth of response requires response from three fire stations.
The rationale for replacing and relocating the 53-year-old fire station on 16 Avenue South is that it's at the end of its function life, it's too small to accommodate any further growth, and the existing site doesn't allow the timeliest response for wildland fires at the south end of the city. The recommendation to add a new fire station in west Lethbridge is based on several factors:
- The population in west Lethbridge has grown to nearly 40,000 from 4,000 in 1980 when the existing west Lethbridge fire station was built
- Development in west Lethbridge has expanded in most areas to the outer fringe of the department's response-time capability
- The west Lethbridge station continues to be staffed by five firefighter/paramedics per shift, just as it was when it opened in 1980
- The addition of a second fire station in west Lethbridge would make additional resources available in the area in the event of limited bridge access across the Oldman River
The master plan also proposes that after the replacement of the south Lethbridge fire station, the existing building could be used instead as a backup 911 call centre and radio shop.
Gerald Gauthier, Communications Consultant