London’s new northeast fire station is all kinds of better

It seems absurd that a fire crew having survived a perilous blaze would have to put their lives on the line parking back at the station.

That was the scene in front of No. 7 Fire Station on Highbury Avenue when the huge ladder trucks returned from a call. Officers would have to get out on foot and spot while the truck or trucks blocked at least two lanes of traffic to back into the hall.

London Fire Department chief John Kobarda said there have been cases where vehicles drove around the reversing engine, putting the firefighters spotting the vehicle, often a captain, in peril.

Getting out of the drive was no cakewalk, either. Kobarda said as hard as it is to believe there are a lot of drivers that won’t stop to let the trucks into traffic, sirens blaring or not.

That adds life-saving seconds to response times at a station that because of its early 1960s design already lagged behind other halls in the “turnout” time it took firefighters to gear up and get on the truck by up to 20 percent.The new rear-entry No. 7 Fire Station on Webster Street just north of Huron makes those and other headaches disappear for the LFD.

“This is where we want to be and where we need to be.”The larger hall houses Engine 7, one of the department’s three 100-foot ladder engines worth about $1 million each, allowing it to dispatch Engine 6 out of the west side of the city and cutting response times for fires in tall buildings across the entire system.It’s certified under the Green Globes environmental scoring system, the LEEDS system’s lesser-known cousin.

With glass from the floor to the rafters in front including the bay doors, it features natural views and lighting from 75 percent of the building, used local recycled materials and has a reflective roof to reduce heat island effect.

The project cost was $2.4 million but the sale of the Highbury site and $600,000 in avoided renovation costs means the city is out more like $1.3 million.

Placed on land sold to the city cheap by the Knights of Columbus smack dab in a growing neighbourhood and next door to an elementary school, it’s intended to be a community hub that lets the city’s neighbourhoods division get face time with the people it serves, according to director Lynne Livingstone.

As if on cue, groups of young students from St. Anne Catholic School, next door to the station, showed up for a tour during the opening ceremonies.

She said programming at the street level has increased since the LFD’s 14 stations were folded into the neighbourhoods division at city hall.

“We want to improve the lives of Londoners … and the LFD contributes to that goal.”

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