4-minute rule: New fire hall promises fast response to south Saskatoon fires

Saskatoon's Fire Station No. 3 has a new home. Starting Wednesday, the crew will be working from the new building sitting next door to St. Martin's United Church.

Fire Station No. 3 has moved from Taylor Street and York Avenue to Clarence Avenue South

The Saskatoon fire station will start operations from its new building on Wednesday morning. (Victoria Dinh/CBC News)

Saskatoon's Fire Station No. 3 has a new home and the fire department says it will help firefighters get to emergencies faster.

The station moved its operations from Taylor Street and York Avenue to Clarence Avenue South. On Wednesday, a fire truck pulled out of the new location's garage for the first time. 

"It's really a great opportunity for us to increase our service to a four-minute response or less in Saskatoon, and actually decrease the areas in which we have some overlaps between stations," explained Saskatoon fire Chief Morgan Hackl.

Prior to 2014, the city had plans to build a fire station on city-owned land on Melville Street. A search for a new location began after a study found that Saskatoon had no plans for growth south of the Stonebridge area.

This led to the city buying a lot beside St. Martin's United Church.

Saskatoon fire Chief Morgan Hackl says he went door-to-door to speak to residents during the consultation period. (CBC News)

According to Hackl, the city held multiple consultations before the build started in 2017. It canvassed the community to address concerns about the new station\ — most of which were about noise.

"We reassured them that when our fire crews leave the fire station, they don't immediately turn on those sirens for every call they go to," he said.

Hackl also said residents have told him they're pleased the station will be staffed 24/7, as the alley behind the station and the United church draws heavy foot traffic.

At the grand opening, Ward 7 councillor Mairin Loewen acknowledged the initial growing pains, but accentuated pieces of the station that will benefit the community, like the addition of public meeting rooms.

Fire Station 3 has two meeting rooms for community use. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

"This is, from my perspective, going to be a really great asset not only to the neighbourhood but the community at large," said Loewen.

Supporting densification

Hackl said the new building will not only be energy efficient, it will be unique in many ways.

"First off, in terms of design, we've turned to a two-storey fire station with a fire pole which is a tradition of the fire services."

He said the design was meant to support the move toward densification of the city.

"We want to take up a smaller footprint, so we're on a smaller lot and we built upwards."

The new station is a far cry from its previous incarnations.

"In 1914, 11th Street near Broadway was the first location and it started with horse-drawn fire apparatus and a hay loft," said Hackl.

As for the decommissioned second incarnation of the station on Taylor Street and York Avenue, Hackl said it will be kept as city property and used for storage of fire department equipment.