Once again, our civic thanks are due to the hardworking firefighters who were called out first thing Monday morning.
Despite frigid temperatures and extreme wind chills, firefighters were able to aggressively tackle a burning building at Second Street and Pacific Avenue.
The building, which housed three local businesses, was gutted, and is a total loss. But the fire was prevented from jumping to any neighbouring building, and firefighters also saved a Manitoba Hydro pole that could have caused a headache by knocking out electricity to the inner city.
Although one person was taken to hospital as a precaution, to be treated for smoke inhalation, there were no serious injuries. Damage from the fire was estimated at $400,000 and it has been blamed on a faulty heater.
It’s no doubt an unfortunate coincidence that the building that went up just happens to be next door to the former location of Sturgeon Tire, itself the scene of a dramatic inferno on another very cold day nearly two years ago.
Sturgeon Tire is back up and running, with a Princess Avenue location. (We applaud them for sticking downtown, by the way.) And we hope that the businesses affected by this most recent fire — Prairie Electric, Rylam Developments and Westman Golf Service — a very speedy time in finding new locations themselves.
But we’re a little worried by the lack of development on Sturgeon Tire’s former location.
There are already enough parking lots downtown where once-thriving businesses burned down and were never rebuilt.
The First Street and Pacific Avenue intersection should be an impressive entryway for travellers who are coming into the central core of Brandon. After passing by Assiniboine Community College and winding along the river, motorists crest the First Street Bridge and have a burgeoning Errol Black park on one side and … gravel lots on the other.
Speaking of Errol Black Park, we’re unfortunately remined that it was supposed to have been the home of the new Fire Hall No. 1. Health concerns (we think specious ones) prevented it from going there, and we’re quite happy with the park that has arisen.
But three of Brandon’s biggest fires in recent years have been within spitting distance of where the fire station isn’t. Aside from this week’s, and the neighbouring Sturgeon Tire fire, there was also the tragic arson on First Street which killed a Brandon man in 2012.
This cluster is, as we said above, surely coincidence.
The next three big blazes could easily be near 18th Street and McDonald Avenue.
But Brandon planners should be watching carefully.
The 2014 budget reveals that the city expects to need a third fire hall by 2025 — just over a decade away.
It is laughably optimistic that the city budget documents assume that the fire hall location will be based on statistics about call volumes and duration.
Stop, we’ve heard that one before; memories of recent fire hall location debates are still pretty raw.
We are pretty sure we’re going to hear plenty of fights — Brookwood or Black Farm, East End or West End — about which neighbourhoods need or deserve the added protection the most.
And we’re sure that armchair urban designers will have plenty of opinions on precise site locations, and what it’ll do to traffic patterns.
We urge the city to start planning now, because 2025 is only 11 years away.
We’re reminded that the new fire hall opened in 2010. Eleven years after it was first proposed, in 1999.
And, as we were reminded again this week, location matters.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 13, 2013