CARSTAIRS - A grand opening was held Sept. 10 for the new $4 million Carstairs fire hall, giving the public an opportunity to tour the facility and learn how its design will better serve the public as well as department members.
The 20,000 square-foot fire hall located at Mandalay Bay was constructed by Eagle Builders LP and funded by the Town of Carstiars and Mountain View County. It replaces the former Carstairs Fire Department station at 1450 Gough Road which still houses Alberta Health Services’ Emergency Medical Services.
An uncoupling of the fire hose ceremony was held in place of a traditional ribbon cutting.
Prior to tours, Carstairs Fire Department Lieutenant Josh Van Arnam MC'd the ceremony during which Carstairs Fire Department Chief Jordan Schaffer, Town of Carstairs Mayor Lance Colby, and Mountain View County Deputy Reeve Greg Harris spoke.
“I’m particularly proud that in the design of this hall, Jordan and the town staff put a lot of effort into the health and wellness of our firefighters. You will not see anything better in a big city hall than what you’re going to see here today,” Harris said during his remarks.
Among the building’s features are five drive-thru bays, a decontamination area, personal gear cleaning, wash bay and a fitness room.
“And multiple showers throughout the building to limit carcinogenic exposures to our families and to ourselves. This building also houses a state-of-the-art training centre, which was one of our biggest priorities for health and safety, and lots of room to expand as the town and the county expand,” said Schaffer.
Town of Carstairs Mayor Lance Colby and Mountain View County’s deputy reeve reminded the crowd gathered for the opening that the most important resources in the building are the fire department members
“They give up a lot of their own personal time and their husbands and wives give up their time with them in order to staff this hall and to look after us. I think it’s very important that we recognize them,” said Colby.
“They go out, they take risks as all emergency service people do and I know it puts stress on them and their family,” he said. “But we got to understand and appreciate all they go through for us."
After a round of applause for members, Colby presented the fire chief with a model fire truck he was given in roughly 1956.
The recent transition to the new fire hall saw the department responding from its new home to the Sept. 2 fire south of Carriage Lane during which some residents were evacuated from their homes.
There were two other fires that day between 1 and 3:30 p.m. that the department responded to.
“Last Friday we had that fire just south of Carriage Lane and I talked to the chief and they were ectatic with how the hall worked and they’ve been very pleased with the way it’s set up and I’m just so proud of them,” the mayor said.
The department had 25 calls in the week prior to the grand opening and have had over 200 calls so far this calendar year.
“As of last Friday, Sept. 2 to today, was the busiest week in Carstairs Fire Department history. And each of our members went way above what we’ve ever asked them before,” said Schaffer before giving appreciation to the members and their families.
The hall proposal has been several years in the making. The Carstairs and District Department Building Committee -- a partnership between the Town of Carstairs and Mountain View County -- was struck and Colby said they toured various halls in the province to get an idea of what would work in Carstairs.
At the time, the Carstairs Fire Department had outgrown the former hall on Gough Road, said Van Arnam.
“Over the past 43 plus years, that hall had served its purpose very well. But we outgrew it quite literally. When we commissioned this new ladder truck, the truck was two inches too tall to get into the apparatus bay,” Van Arnam said adding the ladder truck was housed at the Town of Carstairs shop wash bay and a specialized trailer had to be stored at the town’s public works yard.
In January of 2021, the committee presented its proposal to the two municipal councils. Both councils later approved not only the build but also an ownership agreement.