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No generator at Fire Hall 6

Slashed from plans to bring project under budget; fire chief says he hopes generator can be brought back in with surplus funds


A generator that would provide back-up power in the event of an emergency originally slated for the soon-to-be-completed Fire Hall 6 was taken out of the project plans in order to bring construction under budget. Fire Chief Steve Meringer says that with the project now coming in with a surplus that the generator can be put back in.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

In a series of modifications touted as uncompromising to operations, a source of back-up power was slashed from the original budget for Fire Hall 6.

In the early tendering stages for Oshawa’s newest fire hall, the five bids all came in above the city’s set budget, with the lowest bid coming in at $600,000 above the $3.5-million marker.

To move the project forward, Fire Chief Steve Meringer says several changes were made to the design of the building, including making it slightly smaller and cutting the back-up generator from the budget. However, he says plans have been in place to hopefully get the generator back in the building.

“What we did in order to get the project running and going, the generator was pulled with the idea that we will re-visit it throughout the project and at the end of the day, hopefully we’ll be able to be in a position that we will be able to put it back in,” he says.

If the generators were not installed, Fire Hall 6 would join halls 2, 3 and 4, all of which do not have them. Earlier this year, a movile generator was approved to be used between the three fire halls in the case of any emergency.

The home of the city’s emergency service dispatch and radio systems, Fire Hall 1 is equipped with a back-up generator. The same goes for Fire Hall 5, which houses a back-up for the city’s IT servers and is also the city’s emergency operations centre.

Councillor Amy McQuaid-England says that when council approved the change’s to the fire hall’s budget, she was unaware a generator was part of the cuts, assuming it would be considered an essential item for the fire hall.

“Every fire station should have a generator, it shouldn’t even be a question,” she says, adding  now is the time to ensure Fire Hall 6 is built with a generator.

At the most recent meeting of the community services committee, Mark Robinson, the city’s director of facilities management, reported the project is currently carrying a surplus of approximately $78,000.

“I just think that now we have  positive variance on the project, we should use it to buy a generator,” McQuaid-England says, hoping the rest of council will feel the same when the item comes before councillors on May 24.

“I just hope that they would see having a generator is important for fire safety and our community.”

Meringer says much the same, noting that generators are very important to fire halls in case of emergency situations. He says it has always been his hope that money could be found to include one inside Fire Hall 6, which will become the main responder for Oshawa’s north end growth and the expanded Highway 407.

“Although we pulled it at the beginning and kind of put it on the back burner, we fully anticipated at that time that we would have the contingency amount left to put that in as the project got closer to an end,” Meringer says.

If council decides to approve the generator, the costs will be tight, as the price-tag could eat up the entire variance left over, going anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000. Meringer says he hopes that either way, councillors will find a way to make sure the generator issue is rectifed.

“It’s very tight right now,” he says.

“Even if we were short, I would hope that it would be able to go back to council and either now, or at budget time, or take it out of the equipment reserve, the balance that’s necessary so that we can get a generator installed.”

Firefighters are expected to occupy their newest home the first week of July with a tentative opening date slated for July 17.