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 21-metre 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. It was still in that position as of late last week.
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.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tower appeared to still be functioning even though it had been knocked over.
“Well, physically it’s hanging, but it’s hanging on at the same time,” said Smith on Oct. 14. “At this point we haven’t seen an impact at our facilities yet with the network.”
The SAO said the tower is obviously compromised, and will need to be replaced and the antennas temporarily moved.
The tower was secured to prevent it from moving and shifting any further.
The town has reached out to its insurance adjustor, who will be looking into the options for cost coverage and replacement.
The 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.
The fire department uses radios to communicate with its members because they can all be contacted at the same time.
The tower extended the range that dispatch can summon firefighters by radio and communicate with them when they are out on calls. It provided better communications on Highway 1 towards Fort Providence and even south of Enterprise.