The City of Burnaby and SFU plan for new firehall on Burnaby Mountain

Firehall to come as response to concerns around increased fire safety risk and emergency response times

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A firehall with a fire truck
PHOTO: Krystal Chan / The Peak

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer

The City of Burnaby is working with SFU to push forward the design phase of a new firehall at Discovery Park on Burnaby Mountain. Construction is set to begin in 2024 at the southeast corner of SFU Burnaby campus. This is two years later than the recommended construction start date by the city’s 2019 Needs Assessment Study

According to Burnaby Beacon, the City of Burnaby is evaluating proposals with SFU before moving forward with the contract and beginning the design stage. Fire chief Chris Bowcock told Burnaby Beacon there’s a need for faster emergency response times for the tank farm and SFU Burnaby should a fire occur. 

Bowcock said since citizens have been told the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) facility on Burnaby Mountain is part of a national interest project, necessary provisions for fire safety should be considered a federal concern and funded by the federal government. 

The SFSS Council referenced the fire safety risk from the tank farms in their September 15, 2021 Council meeting, where they unanimously passed a motion to support the Anti-TMX Day of Action. The motion stated the TMX expansion would mean 13 new tanks on Burnaby Mountain with an increase of 79–87% oil spill probability over 50 years. Should a fire occur at Burnaby Terminal tank farm, it would quickly block the only road of escape for those at SFU and UniverCity. 

The students organizing a hunger strike for climate action on November 1 included this fire safety concern within their three demands for SFU administration. 

“We hope that the university will [ . . . ] commit to educating and preparing the Burnaby campus community with the required fire safety risk measures needed as a result of the installation of the expanded tank petro-storage facility on Burnaby Mountain,” said Jaden Dyer in a previous interview with The Peak

“If there is a fire, it’s going to obstruct the main exit route from the mountain, so you’re looking at thousands of students being in life-threatening danger in case of [a] fire safety risk which is massive especially looking at the heat waves we’ve just had recently,” said Zain Haq, an organizer of the hunger strike. 

The Burnaby Beacon reportedby the end of 2022, the city expects to have conceptual design, SFU-related approvals, and a rezoning application completed” for the firehall on Burnaby Mountain. Leading up to the anticipated construction date, the city will be obtaining and completing paperwork such as building permits.