It’s bright. It’s shiny. And it’s really big.
Englefeld’s new fire hall is nearly ready for occupancy. And not a moment too soon.
The Englefeld Fire Department (EFD) got called to a fire on June 29, right before the village’s annual Hogfest celebration, reported Fire Chief Dave Regie.
A power line that had been downed in a fire sparked and caught a tree on fire when they were fixing the line, he said, so he and his firefighters were called in to help put it out.
The volunteer firefighters scrambled into their turnout gear in their old, tiny fire hall, where there is barely enough room between the firefighters’ lockers and the truck to get ready.
“There were eight guys in the hall trying to get dressed,” he said. “I thought, ‘I can’t wait for the new hall’.”
In that new hall, where the lockers are already installed, each firefighter will get three feet of room to get dressed.
“That’s a little better,” Regie grinned.
Though it looks almost done, the new hall isn’t quite ready for the trucks and other gear yet.
“There are a few things left to do,” Regie said, pointing them out while standing inside the massive, echoing space.
They have to finish the mechanical room and bathroom, including some plumbing and electrical work, and there’s some finishing work needed in the bathroom.
Regie also wants to give the concrete, poured at the end of May, more time to cure before they park their heavy trucks on it.
The first bay will be home to their ambulance, he said, the middle one is for their pumper and the third for their tanker.
Regie is hoping that Hogfest weekend fire is the last fire they fight out of the old hall.
“We hope to be moved in by the end of the month,” he said.
The new hall is 40’ by 60’, over three times the size of the old hall. It has three bays instead of just one, and enough room for a table and proper meeting area for the firefighters.
The small size of the old fire hall was the main reason behind the need for a new one.
Built in the early 1980s, the old hall had just enough room for the EFD’s pumper truck, the firefighters’ bunker gear and not much else. The firefighters managed to squeeze in a small table they could sit at to hold meetings, but that meant some of the 11 active members had to perch on the truck.
The rescue unit and tanker truck are presently housed in the village shop, which is not heated. That means the tanker is pretty much unusable in the winter, which has made firefighters nervous about fighting a major fire during those cold months.
This past winter, there were no fire calls for the EFD, which was fortunate, Regie noted.
They had a few this spring, but warmer temperatures meant they would have had use of the tanker.
Construction of the new hall began in mid-September last year, led by hired contractor Rodney Venderbuhs from Englefeld who had a crew of volunteers — mostly members of the EFD and a few members of the community — behind him.
They got the frame and the outside shell covered with tin before the snow fell. Then over the winter, the firefighters got the insulation in and finished most of the interior work.
Concrete was poured at the end of May, and the last of the interior tin installed just before Hogfest at the end of June.
“It took a lot of man hours,” said Regie, looking at the now nearly-complete space.
Most of the firefighters on the department donated between 200 and 250 hours to building this hall, he noted.
A few other people in the village also volunteered their time to help with framing and installing the tin, Regie said.
The labour donated by the firefighters and other members of the community is part of what has kept the cost of this project low.
The cost of the new building is now estimated between $90,000 and $100,000.
The village started fundraising for the project last spring, and so far has put together $53,000. That number includes one $25,000 donation from one man.
That covered a third of their building costs, Regie said.
They also got great deals on concrete from Brockman Enterprises in Humboldt, and Stammen Lumber, which helped their overall costs, Regie said.
But the village is continuing to fundraise to cover the rest of the cost.
A grand opening for the new hall is being planned for this fall.