Fire station No. 6. PHOTO COURTESY VINCENT ST. PIERRE
It took a community to save the Calgary No. 6 Fire Station.
When Louise Station (# 6) had to close after only 10 years of operation and resources were relocated to the Livingston Ward in northern Calgary, Vincent St. Pierre took it upon himself to rally his ward against the recommendation.
“You are across the street. They are neighbors, ”said St. Pierre.
“For years I have seen the ministries of the community and the province erode.”
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St. Pierre gathered five volunteers to work with him and rally against the closure.
Almost 4,000 Calgarians were involved – via email, phone, petition – in protecting the fire department, said St. Pierre.
“We had about 879 signatures,” he said.
“We choose people and give them the power to make these decisions, and they have a real impact on people. I look at it and I go, it requires people’s attention. It requires their participation and their standing up for them. “
The strategically located fire station in Eau Claire serves approximately 25,000 Calgarians living in the Sunnyside, Hillhurst, Beltline, Eau Claire, Downtown West and Downtown Core communities.
A negative domino effect
Closing the hangar would have affected the Calgary Fire Department’s ability to respond to high-rise and water emergencies.
According to Matt Osborne, spokesman for the Calgary Firefighters Association, the closure would have increased response times for the Calgary Fire Department. It would have had a ripple effect on other fire stations across town.
“That’s why we talked about it as a disaster and tried to close the inner-city fire stations,” said Osbourne.
“Not only because an attempt was made to predict response times, but also because the domino effect is due to the fact that there are not enough fire trucks to handle all emergencies.”
He explained that taking one fire station out of the model means that other halls will have to deal with other communities’ emergencies and the services may not arrive on time.
“As a first-time representative, response times are very important to us,” said Osbourne.
“Seconds are important in our business.”
Sure … for now
Along with the citizens, some city councils, including Ward 7 coun. Druh Farrell also spoke out against closing the hall.
“After hearing a backlash, the Calgarians City Council, the Calgary Firefighters Association, Councilors Woolley and Gondek, and myself decided not to recommend closing Fire Station No. 6,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
She said the possible closure of Fire Station 6 was due to unsustainable growth on Calgary’s fringes. Although the station is safe today, it will not be spared future closure, Farrell wrote.
The city administration will again examine a possible closure of fire station No. 6 in the 2022 budget.
“We know next year that there will be more cuts to be made – just over $ 50 million,” said Osborne.
“We still have concerns about next year.”
St. Pierre said citizens need to be vocal about what they value in Calgary.
“One thing that has to happen is that people have to keep the pressure on, stay involved and focus on the city council to protect these inner-city services because there is a story,” he said.