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PAB Fire Hall needs repair

Extensive problems forced relocation of 2023 Firefighter’s Ball

The Ralph Bennett Memorial Fire Station on Norman Avenue, shown here last week, is in need of extensive repairs. – © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — The Ralph Bennett Memorial Fire Station, home to the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department, is currently undergoing renovations, but the renovations could prove to be more extensive than originally planned after more serious issues were uncovered. There is also an attached hall, available for public rental for functions, which allows the department to raise funds towards operations, as well as use it for their own events. “We’ve got to get some renovations done before we can open it to the public. That’s basically it in a nutshell,” said Chief Jerry Musseau. “It’s not because of Fiona. It was just through other renovations we were doing, we noticed some bigger problems, so we just have to not hold anything in that building itself. It had nothing to do with Fiona.” “I wouldn’t consider it damage, more age related than anything. We started renovations and we just ran into a few issues with deterioration in timber and structures and items that weren’t readily apparent until we took off the siding materials,” said Town Manager Leon MacIsaac. “A lot of rot in a few areas like that. The building is relatively old. It’s been renovated a number of times, but it’s to be expected with an older building.” In order to ensure the safety of those attending, the Firemen’s Ball was moved from the building while renovations were started. “We were doing renovations anyway and we discovered other issues that we had concerns about, so we decided that we would close the social hall down and move our event to the Lions Club a week later,” said Musseau. Based on what could be seen beforehand, the true extent of the problem wasn’t entirely anticipated. “It was unexpected. People wouldn’t normally see that stuff until the building got stripped down to see what we were facing. It’s the same as renovating any home. Until you start taking off your exterior siding, you are not going to know what is underneath and waiting for you,” explained MacIsaac. The repair project was in the works for some time, but it had to be put on hiatus. “This was part of an energy efficiency retrofit that we started last fall. It had to be put on pause because of Hurricane Fiona and we are just getting back into it now,” said MacIsaac. MacIsaac said it is unclear how long the repairs will take. “We’re not quite sure. There has been some delays in getting metal siding, things like that, and it will probably be another while yet. Pretty much everything we’ve ordered this year is delayed by two to three months, probably more, so it’s really going to depend on the supply at this point in time,” said MacIsaac. “Supply delays are happening all across. It’s really about waiting to see what you can get. Most of everything is delayed looking for parts for repairs.” The repair bill will be higher too. “Right now, with the new demolition and that, it’s probably going to be much more than we originally anticipated,” said MacIsaac. “It’s probably going to be several hundred thousand dollars, probably more, than was planned, but repairs have got to be made to get the building back into good shape again as well.” There are funding applications the Town is able to apply for in order to offset the higher cost to the municipality. “We applied, like any work we do in town, through grants and funding applications,” said MacIsaac. “It goes on a percentage based loan funding program. Anything could be usually 70, 30, 20, 60, 40, (per cent), but any overages certainly will cost the town. If you can find extras you can typically apply for more funding, but typically you’re limited to what the original amount is. We can request for a little bit of boost to the original funding and if there is funding available they certainly wouldn’t turn us down, but that’s really dependent on how much and what’s available in that particular fund that we can access as well.” If the building damage proves to be too extensive to repair, that will be something that the town council would have to take a look at. “This money is there for the building for it to be renovated, but I would say, if it ends up being much more severe than that, then that’s a decision that council will have to make at that point in time, once we get a full report back.” The smaller Grand Bay fire hall also had an issue with one of its doors, but steps have been taken to fix that issue as well. It’s simply a waiting game now. “The door is on order, so we’ve just got to wait for the door to come in and that’s a lengthy process, waiting for that to come in as well,” said MacIsaac. “There’s nothing else there, not that I know of anyway.” Musseau confirmed there is no other problem with the Grand Bay station. “We had a problem with the door, that’s all. We had a problem with the door and had to do repairs, so we had to take the trucks out to make sure that they wouldn’t be left in there and unable to get them out.” Having the door in need of repairs isn’t something that will cause any issues or delay with rescue and emergency services. “We still have equipment at the downtown fire hall, so we’re not really stuck in any situation. Our rescue truck and another fire truck are downtown anyway,” said Musseau. “We have no issues whatsoever.” While the door is the only thing being repaired at the Grand Bay fire hall, further renovations to that station will not be a priority until the downtown station is repaired. “If we apply and it’s successful under another project, we’ll be looking at it as well, but right now it’s not,” said MacIsaac.

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