View Royal to house volunteers in new station
By Maria Church
Fire Chief Paul Hurst is enormously proud of his new station – with good reason.
After a nine-year process, View Royal Fire Department in British Columbia cut the ribbon in June on a $7.49-million public safety building that not only consolidates the emergency services, building inspection and bylaw services, but will house the department’s volunteer firefighters.
The new station includes four one-bedroom rental suites on the grounds, as well as four units inside the building. Come September, the department will begin leasing the units to certified volunteer firefighters.
“It’s a game changer for response times,” Hurst said. “We will always have four to eight people in the building at all times . . . the community will see a drastic improvement in response times.”
It’s a win-win situation for the members and the department, Hurst said. Discounted rent helps out the volunteers since housing prices in the community are above average, and the rental agreements include maintenance duties associated with the station and the grounds.
The revenue generated from the rental units will go to offset the cost of utilities.
“For communities that don’t have a tax base to support a career department 24 hours a day, composite chiefs need to be creative in how we attract volunteers,” Hurst said.
The building itself, built by HCMA Architecture and Design, is also eye-catching, Hurst said, which adds to the community’s interest in the fire department.
With the bylaw and building inspection staff included – all under the umbrella of protective services – the public safety building operates with 30 volunteers, eight career staff and about 25 emergency program volunteers. It replaces a fire station that was built in 1957.