About four years ago, members at the Magrath Emergency Services Department came to the conclusion an expansion would be much-needed within their near future.
Prior to their planning becoming a reality however, the members had already outgrown the space available.
“We had six bays to accommodate six, large vehicles. We couldn’t even park our utility trailer in here,” said Fire Chief Cliff Blackwell, who added that parking became a game of who was most creative.
“Typically during the summer we would send Engine 2 down to the old town shop to store it there.”
Prior to the expansion the fire hall was a total of 5,600 square feet.
“The addition has added probably about a 30 per cent increase,” said Director of Emergency Services Ken Hoibak.
“It’s going along well, I think we will be on budget and we will finish just about the same time as our new fire truck (Engine 1) arrives. That’s two major projects we have had in a number of years and to get them both done around the same time feels good.”
The brand new Engine 1 comes as a cost-shared project between the Town of Magrath and Cardston County, both who contributed $100,000 each.
The group also completed some renovations upstairs, tearing out the old radio room to make way for an instructional/classroom type setting for any first-aid/firefighter or tabletop training courses that may come up.
Although all most people can see in the former resting place of the town’s cenotaph, which was recently relocated to the town’s museum, is a big garage – a lot more work went into the addition than meets the eye.
“Wayne Harris and Jenex have done a wonderful job and he has been very dilligent in getting it done and getting it done in time for Engine 1’s arrival, because once that truck is finished we will need a place to put it,” explained Chief Blackwell.
“(We had to rip the trees out along the alley) in order for us to exit the alley safely. I know some people are upset about the trees and I can understand that, but we have emergency vehicles exiting out onto the street and they didn’t have a clear view. (Yes,) it takes so long to grow a tree, but you can’t replace a life.”
Blackwell went on to say ‘it’s not that the drivers are reckless, it’s just part of his job as Fire Chief to make sure everything is running as safely as possible, not only for the community but for firefighters too.’
In the future Blackwell said trees could be planted there, they would just have to be cut back to nine-feet in order to maintain visibility.
“The last thing I would want to do is have an accident occur and have somebody end up in a bad situation,” he said.
Currently five members from the Magrath department are working alongside the Raymond department in obtaining their Level 1 Firefighter.
A tabletop exercise has also been scheduled between both Magrath and Cardston County, in the County, on May 7.
“Our department is always growing – we are adding people to it all the time and I absolutely love the direction it’s heading,” Blackwell said.
The department expects their new fire engine to arrive some time in May and will be announcing an open-house type of event once dates are more certain.