Orillia melds old and new in second fire station
By Maria Church
When the Orillia Fire Department in Ontario set out to build its new fire station in the city’s south end, there were two main goals in mind: to replace the aging, centrally located station, and to keep tradition alive.
In late November, the department officially moved into its new digs, which Fire Chief Ralph Dominelli proudly describes as a beautiful building that mixes the old and the new.
The centrepoint of the new building is the bell tower built in 1875 for Orillia’s first fire station. “We’re still displaying our 1875 bell,” Dominelli said. “That was very important in the whole design; making it look like a traditional fire hall and bringing a lot of history with it.”
The new hall replaces Orillia’s former downtown station, which was originally built in the 1950s as a tool and die shop. It will no longer be used by the service.
“We outgrew the old building. It wasn’t really made for a fire hall, we just made it work and it worked well for years,” Dominelli said.
The new 2,100-square-foot (195-square-metre) station complements the city’s north-end station, which was built in 2007. The new building is of post-disaster construction – meaning it is built with brick and stone – and includes four double-deep, drive-through truck bays, and an SCBA clean room.
Now with a south and north station, Dominelli said, the department’s response times have improved and are closer industry standards.
The facility, which is located in a residential section of the city, includes a safe haven – a term used to describe a vestibule area in the lobby that is open 24 hours a day and locks from the inside. The idea is to shelter anyone who is being chased and provide a phone to call for help.
Orillia Fire Department employs 40 full-time firefighters, 20 volunteer firefighters, three prevention staff, a fire chief, a deputy chief and an assistant chief of training and emergency management.