Harrietsfield fire station may not reopen after fire
Amalgamating stations in Harrietsfield and Sambro could improve service, says Halifax Fire
People in Harrietsfield are wondering how long it will take to reopen their fire station after flames destroyed a section of the building, but Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency says Station 62 may never reopen.
Instead, the city's deputy fire chief said they may merge resources with another station, Station 63, which is 12 kilometres away in Sambro.
"Once we know what the loss will be, we'll have a better idea if the best option is to rebuild or to relocate the station," Roy Hollett said Thursday.
The suggestion to amalgamate the two stations was on the table long before the New Years Day fire.
"One of the long-term plans was to go from two to one, which was supported by the volunteers. A better choice would be to go from two to one in a better location in the community," he said.
As for response times, Hollett said a combined service would be more effective.
"Our belief is that it will improve it. It will be better located to where the volunteers and most of the residents are residing," he said.
Stations 62 and 63 are already considered sister stations, sharing the same volunteers and responding to the same calls. Their statistics are even tracked together. Last year, the two stations responded to 98 calls.
But some people in Harrietsfield aren't convinced a merger is the best idea.
Kim and Craig Baltzer moved into a home just a few doors down from Station 62 eight years ago. They say the location of the fire station was a factor in their decision. Now that they have a baby, they say it's even more important.
Calls to the Harrietsfield-Sambro station are tracked along with Sambro.
- 2014: 98 calls.
- 2013: 189 calls.
- 2012: 178 calls.
The city said the recent drop in calls was because of decrease in medical calls in 2014.
"I just feel that for a lot of reasons, it was nice to have that station so close," said Kim Baltzer.
She points out the road between the communities is narrow, and has many turns. She worries that will slow down trucks responding to fires.
But that's not they only reason they're worried about the loss of their station.
"It was also host for a lot of community events," she said. "If that's not around anymore, then that's one less thing that we have in an area where we don't have a lot already."
Baltzer said the station has hosted barbecues and movie nights for families.
Decision far off
Craig Baltzer said there are many seniors living in older homes in Harrietsfield. A new development across the street is in its final phase, increasing the population.
"I think to have it amalgamated and pushed up quite far from where we are, it's another thing taken away from the community which I think would be very unfortunate," said Craig Baltzer.
The Baltzers want to hear more from the fire department about how it would make the merger work.
"Hopefully they can prove it can be an effective service … but I think time will really tell," said Kim Baltzer.
Any final decision is still far off. Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency needs to hear back from the insurance company. If it wants to move forward with the merger after that, it will have to take a business plan to regional council.
In the meantime, Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency has identified a potential new location to lease space that will allow the equipment truck to move back to the community. The majority of it is currently being housed on Herring Cove Road.