Houston Search and Rescue (SAR) has completed construction of their command centre, which has been about five years in the making.
According to Houston SAR president Andy Muma, the building will make a huge difference for the SAR team.
“Many SAR groups in the south have commented to me that they have no idea how a SAR group can operate without a central building,” Muma told Houston Today. “We have been working from various locations over the years; most of our training has been conducted at the Christian School.”
“Our equipment has been spread out and we have been unable to acquire some equipment due to a lack of a safe place to store it,” he continued. “We managed the best we could, but this will make everything we do more efficient.”
“I expect in a few months we will wonder how we survived without it.”
The $250,000 command centre consists of a four-bay heated building with a mezzanine for equipment storage and a main area where SAR members can meet to train. The building is conveniently located behind Houston’s fire station and about 100 ft from the local RCMP detachment.
“This location is perfect for responding to search and rescues, and to assist the town in any local emergency operations,” said Muma.
The new building is also expected to improve SAR’s response times.
“Our call response times have been challenging as we have to first call volunteers in from their work, then track down the equipment before we can deploy,” he explained. “The building will house all our equipment and be the location to quickly meet and deploy.”
“Volunteer time is precious and this new efficiency will allow us to focus more on training, safety and emergency response,” he said. “It is a building the town can be proud of.”
In addition, Muma says that the new building will help secure SAR’s long-term existence in Houston.
“Despite the fact we are all volunteers, SAR emergency response is considered and essential service,” he said. “We may not be called out as often, but when we are needed there is no other agency that can do what we do.”
On average, Houston SAR responds to nine calls a year. All of their work – including administrative, fundraising and search and rescues – is done by a group of 30 volunteers.
The money to build the command centre was raised through fundraising events and grant funding.
Although the building’s original price tag was $300,000, Muma said SAR was able to lower the cost as a result of volunteer work and “generous local contractors.” The land was donated by the District of Houston.
Houston SAR is planning an inauguration event, which will include a barbecue and viewing of the building, for mid-October.