Edmonton

Building new fire station in southeast Edmonton a top priority for chief

With increasing numbers of emergency calls and an expanding city limit, Edmonton's fire chief says his priority for 2019 is a station in the city's developing southeast.

Fire Service stretched with increase in emergency calls, expansion of city limits, says Ken Block

Fire Chief Ken Block plans to request funding for a new fire hall in the developing Charlesworth neighbourhood in 2019. (David Bajer/CBC)

With increasing numbers of emergency calls and an expanding city limit, Edmonton's fire chief says his priority for 2019 is a station in the city's developing southeast.

Fire crews responded to 53,000 emergency calls in 2018, with close to 60 per cent of them being life-threatening situations, said Ken Block, fire chief of Edmonton's Fire Rescue Services.

"Our call volumes continue to increase," he said. "We're up between five-and-a-half and six percent."

With the annexation of 8,267 hectares of land from Leduc and Beaumont to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, the city limits continue to grow to the south and Block wants to be prepared.

A fire station has been approved in the Windermere area in southwest Edmonton, which Block expects will open in spring 2021. Now he's focusing on the city's southeast, which continues to develop new neighbourhoods.

"Nearly all of that area is not hydranted," Block said. "Water supply is a big deal."

Block plans to request funding in the upcoming budget for a station to be constructed in the Charlesworth neighbourhood, located to the west of 50th Street between the Anthony Henday and Ellerslie Road.

"We are looking for design money to be ready for next cycle, from 2022 on, to actually do the construction for Charlesworth," Block said.

Firefighters braved extreme cold on Dec. 31, 2017, as they doused a garage fire in northeast Edmonton. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

The city is also expanding upward as more high-rise towers continue to be built downtown. Block says certain fire trucks have different types of pumps that can spray water at a higher pressure.

An emergency at a high-rise tower would require 28 to 34 firefighters within minutes, Block said.

"There's a good chance that as we get more of these high-rises going up that we're going to have to address some staffing capacity in the downtown core," he said.

In the meantime, he hopes firefighters at the newly renovated Rossdale fire station will be able to help with those calls.

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

@Travismcewancbc

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