Firefighters thrilled with $4 million ‘palace’

A $4 million refurbishment of Queenstown Fire Station is complete and the firefighters are "ecstatic", the chief says.

The volunteer brigade had operated from temporary accommodation at the back of the Isle St station since September last year, and scaffolding and an awning had covered the trucks.

Chief Fire Officer Terry O’Connell said when temperatures dropped below zero one winter night, the water froze and the pumps were put out of action for a day.

"That caused a bit of a stir. We had to call on our neighbours at Frankton and Arrowtown until we got them thawed out."

He said it further disrupted training and "was a bit of a nightmare at times" but was all worth it to get the "palace" that was built.

Firefighters moved back into the building on October 17 once it had been upgraded to a five-star earthquake rating and met 100% of the national building standard.

Building was delayed by Covid-19 disruption, but only by a few weeks.

Queenstown Chief Fire Officer Terry O’Connell outside the refurbished station on 
Queenstown Chief Fire Officer Terry O’Connell outside the refurbished station on Isle St. PHOTO: MATTHEW MCKEW

The Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade has been based at Isle St since 1974, when it moved from the corner of Shotover and Brecon Sts. The first resort station, built of wood, cost a humble £8 and 10 shillings — a world away from the new hub.

Upgrades included separating the locker room, expanding the operations room, new technology, more space for training, refurbishing social rooms and more bedrooms.

The brigade would now have six people living at the station at all times, as opposed to four, plus a further two spare bedrooms.

It was the job of those live-in volunteers to respond to calls in the middle of the night.

Mr O’Connell said the brigade now boasted a future-proof building to match the healthy team of firefighters.

He said Covid-19 had meant some volunteers had left, but there had been no problems in recruiting fresh faces.

"We have got six new recruits at the moment."

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