DCC serves unique client needs at CFB Suffield

Thanks to two DCC-supervised construction projects completed in 2013, CFB Suffield now has range control and fire hall facilities suited to its size and role.

At 2,690 square kilometres, the base is Canada’s largest military training area, with some 6,000 soldiers from the United Kingdom training there each year through the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS). The base also handles Canadian and other NATO training, Defence Research and Development Canada facilities, 175 Canadian Forces Housing Agency homes, and industrial traffic to 12,000 oil and gas wells.

This collection of users wasn’t the case in the early 1950s, when the base’s fire hall was built. As the base grew, the needs of the fire department outgrew the existing facility, and could only accommodate four fire trucks, says James Summers, DCC Coordinator, Construction Services; the rest were parked outside or in separate buildings, reducing optimal response times.

Following the demolition of the existing fire hall, the new 2,133 m2 fire hall was built to not only accommodate all the equipment, but its location provides ready access to the base and the nearby Trans-Canada Highway, plus an 11-second response to the heliport.

“The aim was to construct a facility that consolidates all vehicles and workshops in a new location,” says Summers. “By doing that, the fire department provides optimal response times to both the base and the heliport.”

He adds, the $7.1-million facility enables firefighters to recharge fire extinguishers and maintain their self-contained breathing apparatus, and features a state-of-the-art exhaust system. Hoses connect magnetically to vehicle exhaust systems, removing fumes from the building as the trucks start up, but automatically detaching as they exit.

Range control facilities faced similar issues to the fire hall, says DCC Team Leader Greg LaBine. “The original range control was built in 1982. It had been added onto about six times over the years as end-user needs changed, and the base infrastructure had actually grown past it.”

To reduce unnecessary base traffic through range control, the new $6.1-million facility was located approximately one kilometre beyond the original building. At 1,800 m2, it offers office areas, accommodation for 24 military staff, along with garage space for equipment such as four water trucks for fast response to prairie fires.

LaBine notes that ensuring excellent value for investment was critical for both buildings—given the shared funding between the United Kingdom, at 78 per cent, and Canada, at 22 per cent—and that both new facilities are now meeting the needs of all of CFB Suffield’s unique end users.

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