Repairs to heritage firehall in downtown Kelowna will be costly | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Repairs to heritage firehall in downtown Kelowna will be costly

Kelowna Firehall #2 is set for renovation of its brickwork. The original 1924 building has three truck bays. The fourth bay, on the left, was added in 1945. The lower part to the rear of the building was added in 1990.
January 22, 2020 - 3:00 PM

A more than $500,000 repair project on Kelowna’s Firehall #2 shows that brickwork done in 1924 has a much greater lifespan than similar work done 66 years later.

The firehall, which is still fully functional, is on Water Street in downtown Kelowna. It was first built out of brick in 1924 and had a number of additions over the years. Most of those are now gone except for the 1990 section.

The original part of the building has three truck bays with living quarters above. The 1990 section is one storey high on the north and west side of the building.

While the 1924 era mortar is in most immediate need of repair, the newer, 1990 mortar is “weathering at an accelerated rate,” City of Kelowna engineer Scott Bushell told

It simply makes financial sense to repair the newer mortar at the same time as the older section. The mortar used with the older brick has lasted almost 100 years where the newer brick is already needing some repair. If left alone, it will likely need more urgent repair in just a few years’ time – meaning it will last a mere 30 to 40 years.

The 1924 mortar was made using lake sand while the newer mortar was likely made with different sand, Bushell speculated. He couldn’t say if that was the cause of the faster deterioration.

“It could have been the time it was constructed,” he said. “It could have been the material used. It could be (building) practices - there are some other deficiencies in 1990 construction.”

Those include some staining of the bricks along with problems with flashings and drip edges.

The work is estimated to cost $532,000 and will go to tender soon so it can be done this spring or summer, which are the best times for doing mortar work because it avoids the risk of freezing.

There will be more maintenance coming in the future on heritage buildings owned by the City of Kelowna.

“We don’t have too many of these heritage structures so we definitely want to preserve them and maintain the fit and form of these structures,” Bushell said.

Older construction methods sometimes lent themselves to enduring longer than newer techniques.

“In the earlier times they weren’t as stringent on energy consumption and the way that’s used to heat and cool effectively,” he said. “Buildings were significantly more open compared to nowadays where they’re basically airtight.”

Sealing in the building can lead to more moisture being trapped inside.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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