BRW Fire Station Design


Accentuate the positives, (try to) eliminate the negatives

Last month’s Design on Fire discussed some site selection basics to take into account when choosing a location for your new fire station. This month, we drill down a bit into some of the important characteristics to consider before you settle on a site.


Once you’ve determined what your new fire station requires in terms of size and meeting neighborhood needs, using the criteria we set out last month, it’s time to focus on available sites in your area and decide whether they offer the appropriate acreage and natural advantages. It may be possible to consolidate several parcels of land into one.

Be particularly cautious about buying an abandoned site or land previously used for industrial purposes (such as gas stations or landfills) because these sites have the potential for extra costs associated with pollution mitigation. A good real estate agent can help you determine the history of each potential site. You’ll also want to consider a site with the potential for future expansion.

Take a thorough history of your possible sites and be prepared for the unforeseen.


The natural attributes of the land can be an asset to your building, but they can also pose problems that could hinder the design or be quite costly to rectify. Consider the topography and how it could impact on your drainage, detention ponds, slope of drives, and retaining walls.

Soil can also play a costly role in construction. A soil analysis can tell you much about the foundation type and depth that will be needed, as well as the amount of concrete that will required in the foundation. This analysis can also reveal subsurface water, crevasse, or otherwise unforeseen features.

Some other environmental elements to take into account:

  • How to maximize natural sunlight while minimizing heat-gain.
  • How to utilize prevailing winds for cross ventilation.
  • How to use native and drought hardy landscaping to conserve water.
  • How to use materials found on or near the site.

Natural advantages are FREE advantages, so you’ll want to focus on sites with the most natural advantages.


Study the street access of each potential site, including possible entry and exit driveways. The site and surrounding properties can greatly affect the drive layout. Consider, for example, the surrounding traffic flow, medians, and pedestrian paths. A traffic impact analysis can help determine best case resolutions. Consider the route for the apparatus, public vs. private entries, and parking and security. TxDOT or local codes can govern certain aspects of the drives, such as minimum distance between curb cuts and maximum width of driveways.

Some important infrastructure points to consider:

  • Complete a traffic impact analysis comparative to response time.
  • Study the major streets and access routes for possible impediments or benefits.
  • Make note of the width of the streets.
  • Research the master plan of the area to identify any major future changes.

A careful analysis of the natural benefits (and impediments) of your potential sites can both provide free advantages to your future fire station and head off major headaches down the road.

Next month’s Design on Fire will offer  “10 Site Selection Rules of Thumb.”

POSTED BY: rayholliday

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