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New southwest Edmonton fire station is 1 year behind schedule: chief

Edmonton fire chief says Windermere fire station is about 1 year behind schedule
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton homebuilder says he's concerned because a much-needed fire station in Windermere is about a year behind schedule. Kim Smith reports.

A homebuilder says he is concerned that a much-needed fire hall in southwest Edmonton is about a year behind schedule.

“There should be one. Windermere is a very growing area and the city is moving further south,” Sunny Sahni, a builder with Platinum Signature Homes said on Friday. “Pushing it back, there will be so many more homes coming in the next three years. It’s not a good decision to wait that long.”

READ MORE: Massive fire destroys under-construction southwest Edmonton home, damages others

Sahni was on scene shortly after a fire broke out on Nov. 15 that destroyed one home and damaged several others on Windermere Drive. Investigators determined it was arson.

The recent arson and the lack of a fire hall are reasons why Sahni said he’s extra cautious to prevent a fire at one of his sites.

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READ MORE: Massive south Edmonton fire determined to be arson

“I’m actually at my sites… two, three times a day. I make sure all my doors are locked, I never used to,” Sahni said. “Our trades are responsible, once they’re done their day’s work, they make sure sites are locked and secure. But I make sure I come back every evening just to make sure that nobody has left the doors unopened.”

Sahni is also considering installing cameras and hiring security guards to protect his sites.

In its 2016-2018 business plan, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services had hoped a new fire hall would be built in Windermere. On Friday morning, Fire Chief Ken Block confirmed the funding had been secured, but the project is about a year behind schedule due to design delays.

“I can confidently say that sometime in 2020, that station will be finished,” Block said on Friday.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s 30th fire station opens in northeast end

The closest fire station to Windermere is in Terwillegar at 131 Haddow Close.

Response times to southwest Edmonton are slower than the Edmonton Fire Rescue’s full-alarm response time target. The aim is to have 16 firefighters on scene in less than eight minutes. In 2016, the target was met 81.7 per cent of the time, which is lower than the 90 per cent performance target.

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“Our response times to our outlying areas need some improvements. And certainly the Windermere station is a major step in improving these response times,” Block said.

The councillor for the area said the delayed station is a concern for some constituents.

“They would like to see it built as soon as possible, obviously. And as soon as it’s built, our ability to react is that much better,” Tim Cartmell, the councillor for Ward 9, said. “I have not heard ongoing or continuous concerns from my constituents regarding response times.”