More than a year and a half after a fire destroyed the Mount Albert fire hall and all of its equipment, a new building has reopened for service.

The mayor of East Gwillimbury made it official and cut the blue ribbon to mark the opening of the new fire hall on Saturday morning. More than 100 people from the community came out for the occasion.

“It's here, it makes us that much safer, we've got capabilities to protect ourselves and our families,” says East Gwillimbury resident Richard Guimond.

It was Feb. 2, 2014 when firefighters got paged to respond to a structure fire. Deputy Chief Ryan Jagoe recalls the day.

“I recognized the address of 22 Princess Street. You kind of make a second take and say that can't be true, but it was long and it was confirmed with black smoke in the sky and responding from the other side of town that indeed it was our fire station in Mount Albert that was on fire.”

At the time, firefighters could not access their equipment and had to wait for other fire stations from East Gwillimbury to respond. There was nothing left of the old fire hall that was salvageable and the cause of the fire was traced to the electrical system of one of the vehicles parked inside.

A temporary fire station was set up within a week. Fire departments in surrounding communities helped provide services, while the new hall was being built. Firefighters now have all new equipment and a back-up generator has been added to the new building.

Mayor Virginia Hackson says the cost to replace the building, trucks and equipment will total more than $4-million – all covered by insurance.

“It's a small community in Mount Albert and East Gwillimbury and the loss of a fire hall is very traumatic and people are here today to celebrate because today is a great day in East Gwillimbury.” 

The new fire hall is about 2,000 square feet larger than the original and is equipped with a sprinkler system.