Fire stations of the world: City of Guelph Fire Station 6: Clair Road Emergency Services Centre, Ontario, Canada
The City of Guelph’s Fire Station 6, also known as the Clair Road Emergency Services Centre in situated at160 Clair Road West in Guelph, Ontario in Canada. Fire Station 6 was built in 2011 and serves as a Fire, Police and EMS Station. Stephenson Engineering completed all structural engineering work for this 36 000 square foot Police/Fire/EMS complex that provides emergency services to the south end of the city. The facility houses 45 day-time police personnel including a traffic unit and a Collision Reporting Centre, as well as EMS facilities for seven administrative staff and six paramedics operating two 24-hour vehicles and one 12-hour vehicle. Guelph fire operates two crews of four fire fighters.
The design incorporates solar hot water, on-site power generation, rainwater harvesting for apparatus testing and an on-site fuelling station and is targeting LEED Silver Certification.
Green Propeller Design was instrumental in incorporating Guelph Police Service requirements into the design of this multi-faceted emergency services building. The Guelph Police Service, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance) share the building as the base for servicing the growing South end of the City. By sharing building systems it was hoped to reduce the total operating cost for the three services. The building is entirely barrier-free and is designed to meet the requirements of LEED silver.
Sustainable design features include a wind turbine, on-site water recycling for truck washing, on-demand water heating and solar hot water heating, high efficiency HVAC system and occupancy sensors in addition to high performance building envelope.
The History of the Guelph Fire Department
In 1921, Wyndham Street was a prey to flames – so read the front page of the Guelph Evening Mercury. A major fire broke out at Robert Stewart Lumber Co. in the early morning of 6 July 1921. Chief Knighton and the Guelph Fire Department quickly responded to the call. Despite their quick response time and assistance from volunteers and out-of-town fire departments, little could be done to extinguish the flames fuelled by dry conditions and an ongoing heatwave. The factory and several adjoining buildings on Wyndham Street burned to the ground.
Today, Guelph’s skilled and well-equipped fire fighters might find unimaginable the fire fighting techniques and equipment used over the long history of the department.
Records show the fire department was in existence shortly after the town of Guelph was established in 1827. A hand pumper was purchased by the town in the 1850’s and taken to fires to create pressure for hoses to flood burning structures. Alexander Congalton was the captain of the volunteer fire department established in 1856, named the Victoria Engine Company No 1. They stored their equipment in a small back room at the new town hall on Carden Street until a stone annex was built in 1865.
Advancements were made in fire prevention measures. In 1867, council passed a bylaw that only stone could be used for building structures near the downtown core. Water to fight fire was the impetus behind the city’s first public waterworks. After a typhoid outbreak in 1890s, the water source was switched from the Speed River, close to downtown, to the Arkell Springs, south of the city. A pipeline consisting of wooden planks wrapped with iron bands and sawdust was constructed from the Arkell Springs in 1907, providing water for fighting fires throughout the city.
On 1 October 1909, Guelph’s Fire Department was officially founded and fire fighters became paid, full-time public servants. The city’s first motorised fire fighting vehicle, a Model-T Ford, “The Little Red Devil”, was purchased in 1917, outfitted with a hose reel and a chemical cart. Still, the fire fighters relied on horses for transporting fire fighters and equipment until the horses were retired in 1927.
Today, the fire department has grown to six stations across the city, has a fleet of 16 emergency response vehicles, and over 170 personnel. The tradition courage and service Guelph’s fire department demonstrated during Guelph’s Great Fire in 1921 still carries on today. We are thankful for their service.
Sources: City of Guelph Fire Service, Stephenson Engineering, Green Propeller Design, Guelph Museum