A new landmark greets us as we enter Steveston. Drive by the new No. 2 Steveston Firehall at night, and look at the tower. Its red glass windows are dramatically lit to convey a true fire department look and feel. This facility is an architectural dream. Aesthetically it is beautiful. Structurally this is an environmentally friendly building, which we should feel very proud to have in our community.
Firefighting in Steveston has a rich history, which dates back approximately to 1912. During those years, Steveston’s canneries were in high production, and the need for fire protection was paramount. Steveston village experienced a number of major fires in the early 1900s. The great fire of May 14, 1918, was particularly monumental as most of Steveston’s commercial buildings burnt to the ground. Based on historical knowledge, firefighting in Steveston was handled in a number of ways over the years, ranging from paid firefighters, to volunteer brigades and even calling on the assistance of the Vancouver Fire Department.
In 1972, a two-storey firehall was constructed at the location of No. 2 Road and Steveston Highway. In late 2009 the 37-year-old No. 2 Firehall was demolished and has been replaced with the magnificent new seismically upgraded facility, which is scheduled to have its official grand opening on October 1st, however as of late June, it is officially in use.
The City of Richmond Facility Management and Planning departments assessed the seismic status of the original firehall, along with the condition of the mechanical and electrical systems. They concluded that the facility needed to be replaced. The new firehall meets current standards, including post-disaster requirements, and addresses gender equity. The location and design of the facility provides a functional building with which to operate the emergency response capability for Steveston and the city, and provides an iconic gateway into Steveston.
The design concept included an open plan and the desire to provide a lit beacon into the community. The openness of the building represents the open style of leadership and communication, which Richmond Fire-Rescue (RFR) shares with the City of Richmond and the community. The lit beacon symbolizes Steveston’s past and current nautical ties.
Architect Jay Lin of Hughes Condon Marler Architects, sought to replicate the cannery and industrial ‘feel’ of Steveston’s history. He accomplished this with pine beetle kills wood on the exterior trim, metal cladding on the siding, and the steel girder trim on the building itself. In addition, the galvanized metal railings, stairs and ivy trelliswork reflect the design concept.
Steveston Firehall houses Engine Company No. 2, a fire engine that has a crew of four firefighters on duty at all times. Engine Company No. 2 is one of the busiest emergency response units RFR has in the city. The average number of emergency responses that Engine Co. 2 responds to is 1700 per year. A number of those calls are for service in other areas within the city as well as Steveston proper. Richmond is protected 24/7, 365 days per year by RFR providing four Engine Companies, three Ladder companies, two Rescue companies and one Battalion Chief on duty prepared to respond to calls for service.
Some of the more prevalent emergencies Engine Co. 2 responds to include alarms ringing, motor vehicle incidents, medical calls, fire, hazardous materials incidents, rescue, miscellaneous calls for assistance, and recently, they rescued a number of baby ducklings from the drain in front of Westwind Elementary!
The new facility provides 8300 square feet of usable space for RFR staff. The project has come in on time and under budget. The architect’s abstract expression of metal cladding, wood and steel were incorporated into the requirements of RFR to have drive through apparatus bays capable of accommodating large fire apparatus vehicles, and to provide for longer aerial fire apparatus in future years. Extensive traffic analysis was undertaken to achieve the optimal apparatus bay location and orientation on site. The site and facility also needed to accommodate twice-daily vehicle and equipment checks by the response crews.
Steveston Firehall is home to the hose repair technicians for RFR, as well as the Pre-Incident Planning Team. Engine Co. 2 provides home fire safety inspections, is responsible for conducting fire prevention inspections in the Steveston area, and assists with the infant car seat installation and inspection program located at No. 1 Firehall, Brighouse.
Crews conduct training sessions daily and in the evenings, which includes hose and ladder drills, equipment maintenance and familiarization, rescue and entry drills, medical first aid, safety inspections training, interpersonal skills, leadership and Worksafe and other legislative training requirements.
The training and hose tower is located on the northeast corner of the property, to allow for privacy and noise reduction for neighbours when training and operating are taking place onsite. Quick access to the fire truck for the crew when training and working in the facility was the prime consideration in designing the interior layout. The facility has been designed with a multi-purpose training/lecture room with a public vestibule that allows public groups the opportunity to use the room for public meetings and sessions when the room is not in use by RFR staff.
The new firehall proudly meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold requirements. LEED certification is the internationally recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Achieving LEED certification is the best way to demonstrate that a building project is truly “green.” The firehall has achieved this by minimizing the amount of land used by the building, roadways and hard surface training areas. There is an extensive green roof system, over 60% of the building roof top areas will be green roof. Green wall (for landscaping), extensive tree and shrub planting, drought resistant plant selections, onsite storm water management with rain gardens, day lighting, efficient electrical and water appliances and fixtures, natural ventilation, ground source (Geo-Thermal) heat and cooling system all help make this a truly sustainable building.
Public art will find a home at the No. 2 Firehall. Through the City’s Public Art program, the inclusion of a public art piece will bring together the community of Steveston, the history of the firehall in the area, and will tie in the fishing and farming history of Richmond.
Welcome back to the neighbourhood, Steveston Firehall!
11011 No. 2 Road
Written by Sarah Gordon
Photos by Sandra Steier