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RIP Burnaby Fire Department Station No. 4, Duthie Avenue

The City of Burnaby says public safety on Burnaby Mountain has gotten a 'substantial upgrade' with the replacement of the 68-year-old Duthie fire hall.

Public safety atop Burnaby Mountain has gotten a "substantial upgrade" with the replacement of a 68-year-old fire hall.

A Canadian flag still flies above the fire station at 2326 Duthie Ave., but the parking spaces are empty, the hooks for firefighters' turnout gear are bare and the letters and that spelled out "B.F.D. No. 4" have been pulled from the front of the deserted building.

Just two kilometres away, a new Fire Station No. 4 is now up and running at 1600 Greystone Dr., and the city is celebrating the long overdue replacement this month.

The old Duthie fire hall was built in 1956, when  no one had yet contemplated plunking a university on top of Burnaby Mountain – let alone a major residential development.

On the side of the mountain, though, Alberta crude was already pumping into Trans Mountain's tank farm.

With the completion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, that facility recently doubled in capacity while SFU has grown and the UniverCity development has mushroomed, bringing tens of thousands of people to the mountain each day.

Burnaby fire Chief Chris Bowcock has warned a fire at the tank farm now would have "immediate life and safety impacts" and require a "very strong" fire department response to protect people, property and parkland from heat, fire and toxic smoke.

All the while, however, Duthie, the one-engine fire hall closest to Burnaby Mountain appeared to be the station time forgot.

Twenty years ago, a fire department study said it was "marginally adequate" and in need of "significant upgrading and additional space" even then.

For more than a decade, starting in 2008, money was earmarked in city's five-year financial plan to replace the station, but nothing happened.

The city commissioned another study in 2019 that concluded Burnaby Mountain was a "major high-risk area" and listed the replacement of the Duthie hall and the building of a new fire station on top of the mountain as immediate priorities for 2020 to 2022.

As a stop-gap measure, the city created a temporary fire station at 9055 University High Street.

And finally, in May 2022, city council approved a $50.5-million contract for two new fire stations: Station 8 at the east end of Discovery Park, at the corner of Tower Road and University Drive on Burnaby Mountain and a new Station 4 at 1600 Greystone Dr., right next to the Trans Mountain tank farm.

Station 8 is in the final stages of construction, but the new Station 4 is already operational.

"The completion of Fire Station 4 represents a substantial upgrade to public safety in the Burnaby Mountain area," stated a city news release. "The state-of-the-art facility is designed to meet the unique needs of this neighbourhood and is also equipped with specialized wildfire firefighting equipment and personnel."

The official opening of the new fire hall is scheduled for Saturday, July 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a short ceremony at 11:30 a.m.

Residents are invited to come out, see the new facility and meet local firefighters who are serving in their neighbourhood.

The event will feature games, face painting and a barbecue.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on X/Twitter @CorNaylor
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