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Fire changes for Coquitlam's Burke Mountain

Emergency response times are expected to improve on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain when the volunteer fire station at Coast Meridian Road and Highland Drive switches this week to a full-time professional crew.  - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Emergency response times are expected to improve on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain when the volunteer fire station at Coast Meridian Road and Highland Drive switches this week to a full-time professional crew.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Emergency response times are expected to improve on Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain when the volunteer fire station at Coast Meridian Road and Highland Drive switches this week to a full-time professional crew.

Coquitlam Fire Chief Tony Delmonico said with the area rapidly developing, it was only a matter of time before service was expanded there.

“In my view, it has been a shortfall in our service since I got here four years ago,” Delmonico said. “It really comes down to response times.”

Currently, it takes approximately 12 minutes for emergency crews to get to Burke Mountain from the Town Centre station, exceeding the city’s goal of reaching a fire within eight minutes.

Eight minutes is typically the amount of time it takes for a blaze to move outside of its room of origin and Delmonico said that if crews can get to the scene within that time, the flames are easier to control.

“With all the new buildings, we need to be in there in a more timely fashion,” he said. “It is a really long run for us.”

According to Coquitlam Fire and Rescue statistics, for every 20,000 residents, the fire department gets 1,000 incident calls per year. With more than 20,000 people expected to move into the Burke Mountain area in the next 15 years, Delmonico said the fire service needs to prepare to expand in the northeast sector.

A change in the types of homes being built in the area is another reason the service needs to be upgraded, he added. Before the recent increase in construction activity, Burke Mountain consisted mainly of single-family homes on large lots, spread out from one another.

But new townhouses, apartment complexes and single-family residents tightly clustered together means a fire could quickly spread to multiple homes in a short period of time.

Eight additional staff members will be hired and an engine and ladder truck will now operate out of the auxiliary station on Coast Meridian until a new facility is built. The new hirings will cost the city approximately $500,000 per year.

A new fire station is in the planning phase for the area and is expected to be located at David and Princeton avenues by 2015.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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