A decision has finally been made to locate the new $2.5 million headquarters fire station on the current Georgetown fire station site on Maple Ave. Council voted on the matter at Monday's council meeting. They also gave staff direction to begin property negotiations for a second $1.2 million Georgetown satellite station somewhere in Georgetown South. Fire Chief Bob Meads said the plan is to build the two stations concurrently, but that will depend on the architect and contractor. His expectation is that an architect will be hired by early 2007 with construction beginning in the late spring or early summer. Meads said the Maple Ave. fire station would stay fully operational while the new building is under construction. "I think council made a very good decision, and of the options that were put forward to them, it's the one I would have chosen had I been in their position," the fire chief said. "I think it's certainly in the best interest of the community." Moya Johnson, chair of the Fire Services & Emergency Plan Committee, said a consultant was hired to survey sites in central Georgetown to find the best location for the new headquarters building based on response times. Among the sites selected were the current location, Gary Allan High School on Maple Ave. and Guelph St., land beside the Civic Centre and Cedarvale Park. Johnson said, the Civic Centre site was eliminated due to longer response times and Cedarvale Park was eliminated due to geographical issues (the hilly entrance for example) and a reluctance to build in the well-used park.
The ideal site was the Gary Allan School site (the old Wrigglesworth School beside the post office), but the Town could not work out a deal with the Halton District School Board, which owns the land. "Maple Ave. came down to being the next best option. The response times are good and we didn't have to buy any new land. It wasn't the best site, but it was pretty darn close," Johnson said. The current fire headquarters is the Town of Georgetown's former public works garage and works yard, and was never designed to be a fire station. When the fire service moved into that building in 1977, it was only meant to be a temporary measure. "Thirty years later we're still in a temporary facility, and the building is really getting tired," said the fire chief. Among its failings: · It has only one operational shower, so when firefighters return from an incident they must go home to clean up. · The roof leaks, so when it rains heavily computers must be covered in plastic. · Ideally fire stations have their vehicle bays in the front of the building so vehicles can leave quickly as possible, but the Maple Ave. bays are in the back and trucks must pull around to the front to leave the property. · There is not enough inside storage for the fire services equipment and vehicle, and some have to sit outside subjected to the elements. · Staff are overcrowded in the building with some being forced to share desks and equipment. · The heating system is on the verge of going, and Meads said only enough dollars have been put into the building just to keep it functional. "We have made do with the building for many years now," said Johnson, "delaying construction until we could find the right location. Now is the time." Johnson pointed out the money, under the Town's pay-as-you-go strategy, has already been set-aside in the Town coffers to build both the headquarters building and the Georgetown South satellite, eliminating the need to borrow any money. The satellite will serve the Georgetown South area of the town while the Maple Ave. station will continue to serve as the primary station for Georgetown. While the fire department already gets high marks for its service, Johnson said with the addition of the new headquarters building and the satellite this service will only improve as the town grows. "We're started down the road, and we're going in the right direction," said the fire chief, "and it'll see the town being in a much better position for fire services protection in the future."