MBI Submissions 2017

In 1976, Northgate Industries Ltd. began manufacturing modular structures.



Building Project Information
Project Name:
Dover River Wildfire Base
Location: Wood Buffalo District, Alberta, Canada
Number of Modules: 10
Gross Total Size: 7752 square feet
Number of Stories: 1
Date of Production Start: 11/05/15
Date of Occupancy: 03/30/16
Use of Buildings: Sleeping Quarters, Washrooms, Kitchen, Dining and Recreation
Green Building Rating: N/A

Architectural Excellence

Each of the two sleeper complexes consists of two 12’ x 68’ modules joined by a 6’ x 68’ corridor making them essentially two 30’ x 68’ buildings which contain 24 individual bedrooms. These two complexes are joined at their centers with a male/female washhouse which measures 24’ x 40’. This makes for an "H-shaped" complex. The washhouse is accessible from inside as well as outside with separate entrances. The Recreation complex consists of two wide open 12’ x 50’ modules joined to make a 24’ x 50’ area equipped with couches, chairs, tennis table and TV. The kitchen complex consists of two 12’ x 68’ modules; one module contains all the equipment for a commercial kitchen; the other module contains a boot room and dining area with seating for 40 people. A garage built by the client on site along with the Northgate complexes form a square pattern to create a courtyard in the center of the square with sidewalks providing access to all buildings in the formation. This differs from the usual pattern of buildings at similar sites that are installed parallel to each other and joined by a single sidewalk.

Technical Innovation and Sustainability

Northgate Industries Ltd. prides itself on being able to find the best prices for materials needed for their modular buildings thanks to the efficiency and expertise of its Purchasing Division. Construction takes place entirely in the plant using pre-formed materials wherever possible. Millwork, plumbing, HVAC, electrical installations are provided on-site by journeymen tradespeople and inspected to meet all standards set by the industry. Special features include gable metal rooves, stainless steel counters in the kitchen area and all exterior metal to adhere to the environment where the complex was installed. All buildings were installed on screw piles provided by the client and recommended by Northgate for ease of unloading, installation and stability for the future. The vestibules that join the washhouse to the bunkhouses were designed by Northgate’s Drafting and Design Division. These modules are made to allow minimum heat loss and they are leakproof.

High efficiency furnaces were installed in all modules with ductwork in well-insulated floors. R40 insulation was used in both the floors and ceilings of all building along with R20 in all exterior walls. (Temperatures at the site vary between -50°C and 38°C (-58°F and 100°F)). Quick-recovery water tanks were used in the kitchen and wash house with hot water saving shower faucets. Low-flush toilets were also used in the kitchen and wash house. Installation was done with all pre-cut materials where possible such as skirting and trusses for the rooves. The trusses were all pre-engineered and assembled at the plant to be shipped on top of the modules.

Cost Effectiveness

Some of the cost-effective methods have already been described in the previous section. The Northgate plant utilizes an assembly line for the construction of the modules. This way all materials for the basic construction of each module are precut and assembled into the modules at each station of the "assembly line". This yields a minimum amount of waste of materials such as flooring, studs, joists, strapping, etc. Millwork and fixtures are installed as each module is made ready for such installation.

Transportation is provided by Northgate’s fleet of trucks operated by experienced drivers. The modules are all of the "frameless" type, therefore, expertise in hauling the modules is essential for safety, exact placement and efficiency reasons. The piles, approved by our engineer, are spaced so that the truckers, using their air suspension trailers can drive between them and lower the modules onto the piles without the use of costly crane service (especially in this remote area).The use of screw piles also allows for future relocation of the modules, if needed elsewhere. Also, the modules can thus be easily moved to the Northgate plant for modifications or repairs.

For the user, the inclusion of high R-factor insulation, high-efficiency furnaces and water tanks and "lo-flow" toilets are cost-saving measures.

Optional Information

The Alberta Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Wildfire Division has had many wildfire bases furnished with Northgate’s modular kitchen/diners, bunkhouses and washhouses. The Dover River Base was unique in its design compared to the other bases by its intentional placement of the buildings in a square formation allowing for a meeting area in a courtyard-like plan. This area will contain plants, picnic tables and benches in the future.

Because of its location northwest of Fort MacMurray, Alberta, the timing of the installation and the wildfires that were present in the area, the complex was immediately utilized. The urgency of dealing with those wildfires in the area did not allow for any landscaping to take place. This is evident in the attached photographs. The landscaping and installation of helipads is scheduled for the spring of 2017. Positive feedback from those who used the facility indicate that the complex was well received by the firefighters from Alberta and other provinces and countries who used the amenities during the extreme forest fires south of the base.

MEG Energy

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