The first Fire Station was established in the Town of Kenora on Main Street in 1885. During the year 1889, that Fire Station burned down. A new Fire Station was built the same year only to burn to the ground 2 years later. No time was lost as that same year a “real good” Fire Station was built of stone (where the Kenora Public Library now stands). This Fire Station burned to the ground in January of 1912. The Town Fathers were not discouraged and immediately built another Town of Kenora Fire Station on Second Street in 1912.
Town of Keewatin established its first Fire Station in the early 1900’s and operated out of Powell’s Service Station (now B & B General Store) and later moved to its present location. The Town of Keewatin Fire Station was damaged by fire in 1996.
Town of Jaffray and Melick operated two Fire Stations. The Rabbit Lake Fire Station was established on the 6th of June, 1962. It was operated from Parmeter’s Garage through the winter of 1962-63. The owner of garage was not always available with keys so response was often times awkward. Timbers from an unused barn on the C.J Residence property were used to relocate the Fire Station to a new location on Rabbit Lake Road. The Great Fire on the 4th of May, 1972 destroyed the entire Station, the Municipal Garage and its contents.
The second Station was located on the East Highway and was established by Adam Harlos and Raymond Tew in 1966. It operated from Raymond Tew’s Garage (Tew Spot). Raymond Tew threatened eviction and a new Fire Station was built on Matheson Bay Road. Soon this Station was too small and was replaced in September of 1993 at its present East Highway Location.
On the 1st of January 2000 the former Towns of Kenora, Keewatin and Jaffray Melick amalgamated to form the City of Kenora. With the exception of Jaffray and Melick whose municipality was served by 2 Fire Stations, Kenora and Keewatin each maintained their own separate quarters.
The New City of Kenora tasked KPMG to conduct an Operational Review for the City. The Review found that “the new firefighting leadership will want to review in cooperation with the Office of the Fire Marshal the optimal number of Fire Stations”. In this context a report was provided to Council in October of 2000.
The concept of establishing a “New Emergency Services Facility” found its way into “Kenora Vision, Leading the Way” as a major capital project with priority and timelines. Fire Stations are considered to be a part of Municipal Infrastructure, no different than roads, water lines or storm sewers. This project remained in Kenora’s Vision.
The Fire Service, the Kenora Fire Department, Keewatin Volunteer Fire Department and Jaffray Melick Volunteer Fire Department, was renamed as the City of Kenora Fire and Emergency Services.
Previous Municipal Councils have considered the viability and location of a New Fire Station as situated in the former the Town of Kenora. Records show that the concept of constructing a New Fire Station in the “core area” of the former Town of Kenora was initiated after a recommendation was submitted to the Municipality from the Office of the Fire Marshal in September of 1991. In January 1992, Council established an Ad Hoc committee comprised of Councillors from the Town of Kenora. By February 1994, the Ad Hoc committee convened to examine the options with respect to the location and building design of the new Fire Station. In Subsequent to this meeting the members of the Firehall Committee were reconstituted and as such a new committee was re-established in December 1994.
During the following year, this committee met on at least five occasions to discuss potential locations and costs associated to the development and construction of a new Fire Station. By February 1996 participants of this committee completed location and cost estimates related to this project.
A Public Meeting was held on 22nd of April 1996 and following the public meeting, the matter of constructing and relocating the Fire Station presently located in the former Town of Kenora, although recognized as being necessary, was never brought forward as a recorded concept for future Councils to address. At that time, the estimated costs for a New Standalone Fire Station with a building size of 100′ x 150′ or 15,000 square feet would cost 1 million dollars.
By 2008, Council for the City of Kenora agreed that a New Fire Station was required and was a necessity. Council continues to identify a New Fire Station as a Capital Budget item that would proceed based on a business case. The Office of the Fire Marshal’s Master Fire Plan Status Report May 2008 supported a need for a new Fire Station. A report with this finding was presented to Council on 11 June 2008.
Recommendation #19 of this report states that the “municipality replace Hall #1 with a more functional building capable of providing the fire department the full ability to function within their means in a location that acknowledges the present and future needs and circumstances of the community and utilizes the station location study and its parameters.”
In July 2005 a review of Station One began and examined existing layout, foundation, exterior walls, roof, interior framing, egress and mechanical/electrical systems. The examination included the following program delivery model and anticipated life cycle; anticipated lifecycle of the renovation; equipment loadings and sizes, anticipated growth or deployment; sewer and water systems; electrical service, foundation, site access, staffing and parking requirements. It was concluded that the Condition of Station One required a major retrofit. The renovation costs would equal and most likely exceed new construction costs.
Council by way of Resolution #13 on 24th of September, 2007 engaged Nelson Architecture Inc. to perform an analysis of the options for the development of a new Fire Station.
Nelson Architecture presented their report to the Emergency Service Committee of Council on the 9th of April, 2008 and concluded that a “standalone” Fire Station was the preferred option. The estimated costs for a new Standalone Fire Station as a preliminary “Class C” estimate for the construction of a new Fire Station were $4.9 million. Council would support a proposed site on Barsky’s Hill adjacent to the Operations Centre where the innovative Fire Station is located today.