Fire Fighting in Canada

Comment: Fire halls in the community

April 18, 2022 
By Laura Aiken

Fire stations serve plenty of utilitarian purposes; they are in all respects the workplaces of the fire service. But, there is something different about their existence in the community when compared to other office buildings. Stroll along the street and feel the neutrality of observation that comes from walking amongst office towers, or even many other storefronts. They are part of the landscape. Pay attention when you walk by a hospital, police station or courthouse. There’s a shift in the energy of that observation. Critical things happen in those buildings. Life altering events are associated with these buildings. Fire halls share this magnitude. They are the command centres of the multifaceted first responder firefighters and the chief officers that oversee an incredible variety of calls. Fire stations are a comforting sight in the community. 

This edition’s cover story looks at three very different new station builds. Pefferlaw blended a historic renovation with a modernization. In Bradford, a welcoming and expansive new fire hall opened to better serve its growing community and department. And in Calgary, plans for a new mixed-use inner-city station showcases the city’s innovative side. The new Inglewood station is one of multiple creative solutions in Calgary. In 2020, Extreme Fire Stations, a division of Extreme Portable Buildings, made and installed a unique, portable fire station design to the fire department’s specs. The portable building has a single apparatus bay, four person crew quarters, office and exercise room. The manufacturer reports it is a first of its kind for a major urban centre. 

There are many more that could have been talked in depth if space were no object. In Brantford, Ont., recently built Station No. 2 pays tribute to the late Walter Gretzky with a large mural of him on its exterior. In Saanich, B.C., the redevelopment of Station No. 2 has the province kicking in half a million dollars as part of a mass-timber demonstration and research project. The village of Coldstream, Ont., became home to Canada’s first net-zero fire station, which opened in 2017 and exceeded its net-zero target as calculated through 2020. 

All of these recent fire stations have principles within them tied to the values of the communities they serve. While all of them may be considered modern in their safety, efficiency and inclusion considerations for the fire staff that work there, they also all seek to preserve the legacy of the local fire service and the history of the municipality it serves. Canada’s new fire halls exemplify the blending of old with new, showing that modernization can also mean a tribute to tradition. 


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