SITE SELECTION RULES OF THUMB
For the last two months, Design on Fire has addressed some of the primary considerations for selecting a site for your new fire station. In this issue, we’ll wrap it all up into some basic rules of thumb to remember as you assess your possible locations. (Click here to see our previous articles on site selection, Location, Location, Function and Site Selection Logistics.)
The perfect site is square or slightly rectangular. Request a survey of the property, including easements, setbacks, zoning districts and existing utility placement. A square site has many benefits, including proper building orientation and functionality. You’ll need about 1 acre for every 5,000 square feet of building, so a 10,000 square foot station will need a 2 acre piece of land.
There is no such thing as free property. If the “free” site will require costly improvements or environmental clean-up, any cost savings could be negated (or exceeded).
Site lines from the bay should encompass about 160 feet of street frontage. This number is variable according to the number of bays the station will require. The purpose of is to obtain visual confirmation of the critical intersection created by the bay apron and the public street. For areas that are highly congested a traffic study should be conducted to determine how to safely address exiting the fire station.
Bays should be set back 50 feet from the street to allow for the apparatus to pull completely in and out of the bay before negotiating a turn. This minimizes the damage risk to the building and the vehicles by providing the best case scenario for “launch”. As a secondary benefit a 50′-0″ front apron provides an area for washing, maintenance and training on the apparatus, without impeding the overhead doors.
Minimum turning radius is 50 feet for the outside and 30 feet for the inside. Compromising the turning radius creates a never-ending “hopping the curb” scenario or multi-point turn to get around the corner. This needless fatigue on the apparatus is a determent to the Fire Department’s investment in the apparatus.
Choose a side road as the main exit point for the fire station, to avoid busy intersections or fast-moving traffic. The less your drivers have to negotiate busy traffic while exiting and entering the station, the better.
Minimum drive width is 24 feet. At this width appropriate turning radii can be met, while allowing the apparatus enough room to navigate safely.
Exit points should be at least 100 feet from an intersection. Particularly if it is a busy intersection, you will want to stay clear of any possible back-ups that could slow response time.
Account for shift change when considering parking and allow for 3-5 visitor parking spots.
Keep the slope of drives under 8 percent to avoid apparatus scraping at dips or bumps. The alternative is either damaged apparatus or slower response times–and you don’t want either of those.
Building a fire station takes a considerable amount of time, effort, patience and, yes, money. Finding the optimum site is a worthwhile investment toward your long-term goal of getting the most fire station for your money. A well-chosen site that provides adequate room, is optimally located, and includes natural environmental advantages can set the stage for success. On the other hand, poor site selection can lead to detrimental and costly negative effects that can hinder the station permanently.
POSTED BY: rayholliday
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