Temporary fire station could cut minutes off response times in Waverley West, councillor says

A Winnipeg city councillor says a plan to buy a temporary fire station could significantly cut emergency response times in Waverley West.

$3 million budgeted for temporary structure to house 4 firefighters, gear

A blaze tore through a house on Rose Garden Crescent in Waverley West on Dec. 12, 2016. A temporary fire station could shave minutes off response times in the area, Coun. Janice Lukes says. (Josh Olfert/Twitter)

A Winnipeg city councillor says a plan to buy a temporary fire station could significantly cut emergency response times in Waverley West.

Coun. Janice Lukes hopes the modular fire station — a temporary structure that could house a small fire paramedic crew — could be up and running by 2023, two years ahead of the date when the permanent Waverley West fire station is set to be finished.

"Which is sooner than is projected, allowing them time to build the permanent station, which takes a year and a half," Lukes said in an interview with CBC News. So this is really good news."

The city's preliminary budget includes $3 million to fund construction of the modular fire station, which will be purchased in 2022 and placed on existing serviced Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service land.

There is currently no fire station in the immediate area of Waverley West, which is serviced by fire crews from surrounding neighbourhoods. 

The average total response time in Waverley West is 11 minutes and 27 seconds, according to  the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service's strategic direction report from 2020.

Lukes says the modular fire station could shave three to four minutes off that time.

Response times across the city as a whole are significantly shorter than in Waverley West. According to the service's master plan response times for all of Winnipeg were under seven minutes 90 per cent of the time.

The city plans to use resources freed up by the merger of fire stations 15 and 9 in St. Boniface to staff the Waverley West station. 

Chief Christian Schmidt gave a report to the protection and community services committee on Tuesday, updating the city on plans to amalgamate fire stations and build a new one in Waverley West.

He said the modular station would be staffed with four firefighters and a tanker truck. 

There is currently no set plan for how the city intends to deploy the modular station, Schmidt said. 

It could be placed somewhere near the planned location of the Waverley West fire station, or a crew could operate out of Station 22 on Waverley Street. 

"If we can get it closer or in the area in a modular form then that's what we need to do. But when we looked at the balance, real priority is getting an effective firefighting compliment into or as close to that area as possible, as soon as possible," Schmidt told the committee.

Work is underway to finish the preliminary land assessment for the new fire station, which is proposed to be built in the area of Bison Drive or Brady Road. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and finished in 2024. 

The fire paramedic service's 15-year plan proposes reducing the total number of fire stations to 24 from 30 in order to improve the efficiency of response times to most areas of the city.