East Gwillimbury searching for temporary station after fire
The search is on for a new, temporary home for volunteer firefighters from the Mount Albert fire station that burned to the ground Sunday.
Town of East Gwillimbury CAO Thomas Webster says the town hopes to find a temporary location by the end of the week, and have it operational within two weeks.
“We started yesterday within about six hours of the fire, knew this was what we needed to do, and we're certainly narrowing in on a couple of sites,” says East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson. “We are confident that by the end of the week we'll have a site that will fulfill if not all, but most of the needs that we have.”
Webster says in the interim, the town has made arrangements with neighbouring fire services to keep service running for residents in the Mount Albert area and in East Gwillimbury. East Gwillimbury still has two fire stations and the paramedic station weren’t destroyed in the fire.
Today as the community continues without a vital facility, the search for answers continues.
“It was nice knowing it was there,” says Braedyn Facer. “There for safety and knowing that we've always got protection. And now it's going to be a half hour, 45 minutes for everything.”
Emergency response times are a concern for some. The wait time before the fire was about eight minutes in Mount Albert. The closest primary fire department now, however, is 21 kilometres away in Stouffville.
Neighbouring fire departments are now on standby.
“What we're aiming for in the very short term are similar response times,” says East Gwillimbury Fire Chief Phil Dawson, “getting the trucks rolling and then moving into that temporary site within the next two weeks.”
Replacing trucks and equipment is also a priority. It’s one that retired firefighter Barry Moir says he hopes he can help with.
The retired fire captain from king city is planning to donate some of his old gear.
“My bunker gear, which is actually a turnout coat, the jacket, and the pants,” he says. “They're worth around $1,000. And I have a couple of helmets; I'd like to know if maybe they could use them.”
Town officials say it’s possible they could re-build in the same location, but they're not focusing on that yet. The focus is on the temporarily location, and it’s going to have to be for the long term. A new fire station could take up to 18 months to build.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office.