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Burnaby Mountain fire stations running on time, on budget: City

The update recently came from the General Manager of Lands and Facilities

Burnaby Fire Department trucks line up for a photo op. City of Burnaby.

Residents of Burnaby Mountain can look forward to two fire stations in the first half of 2024–and so far, things are on time and on budget, according to the City.

Fire Station 4 will replace the old Fire Station 4 at Duthie Ave. near Montecito Dr. and will start operating early next year. The brand new Fire Station 8 will begin serving the UniverCity community and SFU five months later. A temporary Fire Station 8 has been operating in the area since February of this year.

Speaking at SFU StreetFest! on Sept. 15, Burnaby City Coun. Maita Santiago said, “earlier this year, we also marked an important milestone … with the opening of a temporary fire hall right here on Burnaby Mountain. This will serve as the base of operations while a permanent fire hall is built to serve this growing community. Having emergency responders right here on the mountain will help us keep this community safe as SFU and UniverCity continue to grow.”

With the UniverCity community now home to 7,000 residents, having first responders and emergency services up on the mountain is essential.he new station 8 will be closer to UniverCity and serve that community and SFU—which is much needed with over 30,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff commuting to and from a busy Burnaby campus. .

According to General Manager of Lands and Facilities for the city James Lota, “the decision to use a new contracting method to take advantage of the economies of scale and build two fire halls at once was a bit of a pioneering decision for the city of Burnaby and cities in general. We took a bit of a risk, and it looks like it’s paying off.”

In reference to the economies of scale, Lota noted the two fire stations will be almost identical, built using the same contractors, design, and construction. By doing this, the city was able to build the two stations, stay well below the original budget, and get them both done within a record period, which is two years. “The original budget for both fire halls was $60M, and we’re coming in under that. One of the reasons why both projects are on schedule and on budget is because we took advantage of the economies of scale, and the two fire halls are sister fire halls; they’re almost identical. So we’re building the same fire hall twice,” Lota told the Beacon.

However, Lota did not say exactly how much the city would be saving. When The Beacon reached out to the city for more information, Public Affairs Manager at the City of Burnaby, Chris Bryan responded, “the projects are on track to come in under budget—however, work is still ongoing and therefore we may encounter delays or complications which could affect the final cost. Once the project is complete, we’ll be able to share the final cost with you.” It is worth noting that while there is currently a temporary fire station on Burnaby Mountain, it does not operate at total capacity and does not have the same number of firefighters or equipment planned for the permanent one.

The new site for Fire Station 4 is located directly adjacent to the Trans Mountain Tank farm. In previous years, locals have expressed concerns that the tank farm may pose a fire risk to the community. Built on Duthie Avenue in 1956, the old Fire Station 4 is at the end of its life and requires an upgrade. According to Lota, the community has welcomed the decision to build the two new fire halls. “Everything I’ve heard from the community is that they like the comfort of having emergency services close, especially with the growing UniverCity community there.” The new Fire Hall 4 will start operating in the first quarter of 2024, while Fire Hall Eight is scheduled to be operational in Q2 of 2024.

Lota added that the city took a risk by using a new method of integrated project delivery. “You pull the whole team together on day one, and the contractors, owner, and architect all work together to design and build right throughout the entire process. The theory is that you can get to design and construction faster, and your budget stays more under control because everyone’s been involved since day one. Because of the tight timeline, I mean delivery of a fire hall in two years is unheard of in local government and Burnaby, but that was the goal.”

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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