A communications tower atop the Hay River fire hall has been knocked over, apparently by high wind.
Glenn Smith, the senior administrative officer (SAO) with the Town of Hay River, said the tower fell at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 14.
At the time, Smith said he was sitting in town council chambers with Fire Chief Ross Potter, right across Woodland Drive from the fire hall.
“And we saw it flip over the building there,” the SAO said.
The tower didn’t actually fall to the ground. Instead, it buckled over the edge of the fire hall roof and hung down the side of the building.
Smith said the tower was still functioning as of Oct. 23.
“There is some reduced coverage and functionality obviously given the state of the tower, but we are working with a tower company to get a new design, and working with the insurance company, as well, for a more emergency-type procurement of that replacement,” he said.
During the Oct. 19 online meeting of town council, Fire Chief Ross Potter, who is also the director of protective services, said it looks like replacement of the tower will go through as an insurance claim.
“As it stands right now, our radio systems are still working for fire and EMS,” he said. “So we are able to communicate with our firefighters and that type of thing. So dispatch is still working fine.”
Potter said the town is working with WesTower Communications of Vancouver to assess the damage, and the company has already sent two representatives to Hay River.
The fire chief noted that the company is trying to see whether it has got anything in its inventory in Vancouver that it can get up to Hay River to replace the tower.
According to information from Environment Canada, the tower fell when there were winds of 45 kph, gusting to 60 kph.
Smith said all indications are that the tower had been knocked over by the wind.
“It’s a radio tower that we use for a few purposes,” he noted. “One is for the town’s protective services’ radio system.”
Another use is that ArcTech Computers – the town’s information technology contractor – provides Internet services through wireless communications connecting the town hall, the Visitor Information Centre and the town garage.
Smith said ArcTech Computers also uses antennas on the tower to provide wireless services to other customers.
The tower has been secured to prevent it from moving and shifting any further.
The 68-foot tower was built in 2016 on top of the fire hall, which gave it an overall height of about 90 feet.
It replaced a 60-foot tower that stood on the ground by the old fire hall.
The project was undertaken with $50,000 from the GNWT.