New fire station designed with the community in mind

The original fire station built in 1932 will live on

A casual glance at fire station 135 just north of Eglinton on Chaplin Cresent leads the passerby to think there’s no difference between it and its doomed predecessor just south of it. But first impressions are misleading.

Instead of simply plopping down a carbon copy of the old one in the new location, Capt. Adrian Ratushniak of Toronto Fire Services says the new station is the product of a thoughtful redesign by Thomas Brown Architects.

A beacon to joggers

“The building was designed to have two public faces,” Ratushniak says. The Chaplin Cresent face has “street-level glazing and landscaping. It’s designed to be inviting and represent Toronto Fire Services as part of the community.” That we expect.

But instead of simply settling for a solid-brick backside looming over the joggers on the Kay Gardiner Trail, Ratushniak says the “south face of the building was designed to represent a beacon … to users on the trail.”

What joggers see are the staff’s living quarters, which is an improvement over the brickwork on adjacent buildings.

He goes on to say the station also connects with the past: it displays two medallions bearing the wounded-deer crest of Forest Hill Village. The crests were salvaged from the building that was razed to make way for the new station.

Forest Hill Village was incorporated in 1923 and disappeared in 1967 when it was absorbed into the City of Toronto.

Answering alarms without endangering passersby and motorists

Ratushniak points out that the new station lets firefighters respond to alarms without endangering passersby and motorists on the winding Chaplin Crescent out front.

“There is adequate space in front of the apparatus bays to let vehicles pull out of the building without entering the street.”

“The former station on Eglinton Ave was right on the street requiring the use of sirens and flashing lights as the vehicles left the station. The new station allows the vehicles to leave the building before entering the street, creating safer conditions and minimizing disruption to the surrounding neighbours.”

The price tag is $7,332,017.

What $7,332,017 buys

  • A 2-storey, 15,763 square-foot building
  • Room for 10 firefighters
  • Living quarters, showers and fitness facilities located on the second floor
  • A green roof
  • A dedicated decontamination facility
  • A vehicle exhaust extractor system
  • A backup generator
  • Room for 2 trucks, 1 pumper, 1 aerial ladder
  • 1 fire pole.

Yes, a fire pole. If you think that idea of a fire pole with firefighters sliding down it at the sound of an alarm is the stuff of movies, think again. Rathushniak says that in the event of an alarm, firefighters can don their protective clothing, slide down the pole, seize their equipment and be in the fire truck, with their seatbelts on, in around 80 seconds.

The old station will become part of the entrance to the Crosstown LRT. As for the original brown-brick fire station built in 1932 and located on Eglinton Avenue, it’s been designated a historical building so it will survive the LRT. But as what is yet to be determined.

Two email requests for a tour of the building and photos of the interior got no reply.