Public gets look at new Barrie fire HQ

Once the site of a hockey rink, the locally fabled Barrie Arena, the location’s new inhabitant, the city’s new fire department headquarters, officially opens on the southeast corner of Dunlop Street West and Eccles Street.
The ceremonies will stretch over two days, today (Wednesday) and tomorrow. The first, the official opening, happens Wednesday at 2 p.m. and will be attended by federal, provincial and local dignitaries. This one isn’t open to the public, although the press will be on hand to record the pleasantries.
MP Patrick Brown and MPP Aileen Carroll will attend not only to represent their offices, but also the funds each level of government kicked in to help build the headquarters, $4.2 million each. The new structure on 2.8 acres comes with a cost of $12.7 million, and occupies 38,000 square feet. It will serve as the department’s headquarters and also the city’s emergency operations centre.
Dispatchers working out of the site will handle calls for Barrie and 11 other communities. As such, the service is regional.
The building occupies a signature spot on the edge of downtown and adjacent to Barrie Central Collegiate, and is being considered a gateway edifice. It’s a building with an open, inviting profile, with large windows offering a look inside for traffic driving by. It will be staffed by 80 personnel, including 44 firefighters from four platoons.
The centre has been operational since May and replaces the facility on Vespra Street, which originally opened its doors in 1964.
The public is invited to tour the new headquarters on Thursday; an open house is planned for 3-7 p.m. Activities include a meet-and-greet with staff and a barbecue.
Barrie residents should get used to new fire services as the city’s Master Fire Plan lays out growth over the coming years, including a temporary fire station next year to serve the city’s southwest quadrant. Once the city fully incorporates the annexed Innsifil lands, a new permanent facility will be constructed in the area.
Plans call for that location to include a training centre for Barrie firefighters. Other departments will be able to use the facility for a cost.
For more on plans to upgrade the city’s firefighting capacity, read this City Scene Barrie story.

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