On Saturday, September 10, residents of Carstairs, along with local officials and firefighters gathered for the grand opening of the town's new fire hall. While the new fire hall has been operational for several months now, Saturday was the official grand opening to the public.
Master of Ceremonies, Lieutenant Josh Van Arnam, a fire prevention officer at the Carstairs Fire Department who has been with the department for over 15 years, said that just this past week firefighters responded to more than 25 calls and over 200 calls in 2022. He added that the town's previous fire hall was opened in 1979 and served the town for over four decades.
However, as the town's population grew, so did the demands of its fire service. At one point, when the Carstairs Fire Department commissioned a new ladder truck, it was too big to be parked in the old fire hall.
"Not only are all of our units together under one roof again but there is room for expansion in the future," he said. "This building is amazing and it will house the new Carstairs fire department hopefully for the next 43 years."
Lance Colby, the Mayor of Carstairs was also present and noted that while the building is indeed impressive, it is the people who staff the building that is the beating heart of the fire department.
"I just want to say to all the people here, look around and you see all these people in uniform. They are volunteers. They serve our community very well and they not only serve our community but the surrounding area. They give up a lot of their own personal time and their husbands and wives give up their time with them in order to staff this hall and to look after us."
Mayor Colby also made a heartfelt gesture by presenting Carstairs Fire Chief, Jordan Schaffer, with a vintage miniature fire truck that the mayor himself had gotten in 1956. In a joking matter, he noted that the fire department is always asking for new trucks, hence they received one, albeit a much, much smaller version.
Mountain View County Councillor for Division two Greg Harris, who is also Deputy Reeve underlined that the new fire hall has put the health and safety of firefighters front and centre.
"I'm particularly proud that in the design of this hall, Jordan [Schaffer] and his town staff put a lot of effort into the health and wellness of our firefighters. You will not see anything better in a big city hall than what you're going to see here today," said Councillor Harris. "It looks after the most important people and that's the ones who look after us; from the differential pressure systems, down to the washing machines designed to take all the bad stuff out of their gear that they gather when they're in a fire."
Fire Chief Schaffer was the last to speak, echoing the sentiments of the speakers before him. He thanked all those who made the commission of the new fire hall possible and acknowledged both past and present members of the fire department that came to the ceremony.
"As I look outside this crowd, I see so many faces from previous and past members and to current [members] that walked through the doors that I've walked through [in] the old hall. Now I'm glad I can walk through the doors of this new hall."
The new fire hall boasts 20 thousand square feet of space and is expected to serve the town for the next four decades.
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