Last week, Ray Holliday and Lisa Andel from our College Station studio participated in the ground breaking for Pearland Fire Station No. 3 alongside: the General Contractor, Crain Group; Pearland Mayor, Tom Reid; and City Manager, Clay Pearson. Construction has commenced on the new 10,726 square foot station which is located on the corner of Yost Blvd. and Broadway St. adjacent to the existing EMS station. The new station will accommodate both Fire and EMS as the department transitions from volunteer to a career fire department and the two emergency entities have now merged. The existing EMS station that is currently located in a converted house on the same site as the new station will remain functional throughout construction. The new Fire Station #3 will accommodate 10 full-time fire fighters and is expected to be open and operational by April 2015, after which the existing EMS station will be demolished.
Photo Courtesy of City of Pearland
Located in the rapidly growing community of College Station, Fire Station No. 6 is sited on the main entry corridor to the City. This 25,000 SF Design-Build facility is a landmark fire station for the City and the fire personnel traveling from departments across the country to one of the nation’s premier fire schools.
To meet the growing needs of the community, the new station was designed to accommodate 3 shifts of 14 fire personnel and house the largest of the department’s apparatus in the five 100’ deep apparatus bays. With an understanding of the need for balance between a home and work atmosphere, we carefully equipped the station with low maintenance, highly durable materials which promise to maintain its aesthetic quality for years. In addition to the bedrooms and bays, the floor plan consists of storage and office spaces, EMS storage room, bunker gear/laundry room, weight room, electrical/communications room, report-writing room, kitchen, dining room, day room, watch room, bathrooms with showers, a community/training room for staff training or community use, and a HAZMAT gear storage room.
One of the challenges of the site were the remnants of a groundwater storage tank foundation, which had been there until the late 1990s. Record drawings, aerial maps and satellite imagery were used to help locate the abandoned infrastructure to ensure that any underground obstructions were cleared for the foundation construction. To address traffic control issues, the project team worked closely with the city’s traffic engineer and others to implement controls for the traffic control signal at University Drive and Tarrow Street.
State-of-the-art equipment was integrated into the design of this station to maximize its function. The custom alerting system ensures efficient notification of emergencies to the personnel, while simultaneously protecting the station by triggering a gas shut off valve to stop the flow of gas to appliances and the grill. Timers are integrated into the exhaust system to allow for clarity of radio signal and ample air exchange within the apparatus bays. Override switches are integrated into the bay door design to ensure that the heating system does not run while the bay doors are open, thus reducing the operating costs of the station.
BRW and the City of College Station celebrated the grand opening of Fire Station No. 6. It’s not every day that we design a project in our own backyard, so you can imagine the excitement and pride we have had seeing this project come to life. The City of College Station likes to “do it up right;” so the ceremony appropriately opened with a performance by the College Station Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums. Instead of the standard ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Nancy Berry responded to the “first call” and officially opened the building by sliding down the new fire pole and driving the fire engine straight through the ribbon. The festivities then continued as the station’s personnel broke in their new kitchen and BBQ grill by cooking enough hot dogs and hamburgers for the entire community. There is nothing like testing the equipment and their cooking skills the first day on the job.
Station No. 6 is one of BRW’s largest fire stations to date. Situated in the heart of Bryan/College Station, the new station will serve the University Drive corridor as well as the Texas A&M University campus. The facility’s modern look was designed to fit within the surrounding commercial district while embracing the strict design criteria of the city. Because the site was so restrictive, the large station sits very close to one of the most heavily trafficked roads in Bryan/College Station. To help create a buffer in the small setback, BRW incorporated a “time line plaza,” water feature, and landscaping to soften the buildings presence at a pedestrian level. A timeline of the department’s history was created by engraving the bricks of the plaza with the names of all past employees and volunteers. Just inside the reminiscent hose tower, the station features a historical memorabilia area and a multi-purpose room which is most commonly used for departmental training, but it is also available for use by the community. The remainder of the first floor consists of: a report writing room that doubles as a backup 9-1-1 emergency dispatch center, administrative offices, a 14-person dayroom, a kitchen we would all want to have in our own home, a dining room, and weight room facilities. Five 100 foot deep bays house the Fire apparatus, a Hazmat truck and trailer, EMS Vehicles, and water rescue units. The bays are flanked on each side by support spaces such as a decontamination room, Hazmat and EMS storage, and a Bunker room. The second floor is primarily reserved for the private spaces of the fire personnel which include individual sleeping rooms, unisex bathrooms, a laundry room, and a study room that overlooks the apparatus bay. The station is equipped with a state-of-the-art, customizable, alerting system that can be clearly heard throughout the facility. The system has features such as a timer that helps further motivate quick response time, coded LED lights to assist each crew with identifying their specific calls, and individual controls in each bedroom so that staff members will only be awakened when their crew is called. Last, but not least, no fire station would be complete without a fire pole, so this large station appropriately has two.
As always, designing and constructing fire stations is an exciting process, filled with opportunities to grow and learn with each new project. This project’s dynamic and cooperative team of architects, contractors, and clients worked well together to tackle issues as they arose resulting in an overall pleasurable experience. Together, the project team made sure that the facility was not only finished on time, but also of the highest construction quality. As exciting as it is to see this project complete, it is a little bitter sweet to say so-long to something that has consumed so many of my thoughts for the past several months. Luckily for me, when I’m feeling nostalgic, all I have to do is simply drive by on my way home from work.
All photos courtesy of the City of College Station: To see more click here.
POSTED BY: DIANNE JONES
BRW was recently published in Texas Fire Chief Magazine. Click here to read the first article in a three part series entitled: “Form Follows Function in Fire House Design”. The series was written by Ray Holliday, AIA, ASLA, LI (BRW’s College Station Studio Director), Nicole Story and Diane Jones. This month’s topic is Site Selection. Stay tuned for future articles “Collaborating with the Community” and “Fire Department Philosophies”. To view a PDF version of the article, click here.
On Wednesday, October 10th, 2012, the City of Georgetown and Georgetown Fire Department celebrated the dedication and grand opening of the new Fire Station No. 5 and Fire Training Facility. The ceremony opened and closed with music from the Georgetown Fire Department Pipes and Drums Band. Fire Chief Robert Fite and Mayor George Garver spoke at the event, thanking everyone involved in making the project a reality. Chief Fite encouraged the citizens to explore every last corner of the facility and truly appreciate what their tax dollars made possible. Following the speeches was the traditional “hose uncoupling” in lieu of a ribbon cutting, after which firefighters pushed Engine No. 5 into the apparatus bay. At the conclusion of the ceremony, attendees were free to tour the entire facility and enjoy breathtaking views from the 4th story of the new training tower.
BRW incorporated traditional Texas hill country elements into the design of station 5, such as white limestone, stained siding, and a covered front porch. At the same time, the massing and roof forms of the building give it a contemporary and unique look that will easily complement the new public safety complex adjacent to the site, which is currently in design. The distinctive red bay doors and red windows give the building an unmistakable fire house character.
The entire complex consists of the new 12,137 square foot fire station, a 2,838 square foot training classroom building, and a four story training tower and burn building. The station includes three truck bays with support spaces, sleeping spaces for ten featuring suites for captain and lieutenant, and common spaces such as a kitchen, day room and exercise room. Station 5 currently houses fire administration offices which will move to the new public safety building once completed, allowing future expansion of the station’s personnel and capabilities. Behind the station is the training classroom building with a large indoor/outdoor classroom and three garage bays for boat and trailer storage. Adjacent to the classroom building stands the training tower and burn building, which offers a variety of training scenarios for live-fire training and technical rescue instruction. Neighboring fire departments are already lining up to utilize the new training facilities.
POSTED BY: DANIEL PESEK
September 11, 2012 was a bittersweet day on South Padre Island. As the city remembered the fire fighters and other fallen heroes of the World Trade Center attacks, they also gathered at 106 West Retama Street to dedicate their new central fire station. The 20,000 square foot building was the long-awaited replacement for the old fire station that had been badly damaged by Hurricane Dolly in 2008.
State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. spoke at the dedication. American and Texas flags were raised for the first time on the station’s flagpole then slowly lowered to half-mast. A steel beam that had been removed from the World Trade Center rubble was on permanent display in the public plaza in front of the station. Chief Burney Baskett said that the beam will be a reminder of “the deadliest day in the history of the United States Fire Service”.
The distinctive form of the three-story building reflects the need for the emergency operations center (EOC) to remain high off the ground and functional during harsh weather conditions as well as the demand for a compact building footprint due to high property values. BRW aimed to provide a building that neither compromised on durability nor stood out as a bunker among the festive buildings on the island. That goal was achieved by a two-part solution. First, a cast-in-place concrete structure with reinforced concrete block infill was designed to provide a tough exterior shell. Second, the upper floors were clad with a warm wood-composite rainscreen system which, during a storm, will equalize air pressure and obstruct driving rain.
POSTED BY: BRIAN GIBBS, AIA
BRW principal, Gary DeVries, AIA and Studio Director, Ray Holliday, AIA led a Texas Fire Chiefs Academy session on June 5th at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. The 2 hour training session reviewed the basic process involved in designing and constructing a fire station. Classes are held from June 3-8 and is sponsored by the Texas Fire Chiefs Association.
The Texas Fire Chiefs Academy is a comprehensive training program for current fire chiefs and those who aspire to be fire chiefs.
Accessibility requirements for fire station renovation or new construction changed significantly when the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s (TDLR) 2012 Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) became effective on March 15th of this year. While Texas standards have always adopted federal ADA requirements, previous versions have included exemptions from some accessibility requirements for fire fighter (employee) only spaces. The previous exemptions are not included in the current 2012 TAS. As with most building code and accessibility requirements, the new requirements are not retroactive and only apply to new or altered facilities.
A summary of 2012 TAS requirements for fire stations follows:
- An accessible path must connect public transportation and parking to the building entry, public-use spaces and restrooms.
- Public spaces include lobbies, public restrooms, treatment rooms, training/meeting rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, day rooms, and office areas.
- At least one bedroom and one restroom must be fully accessible. Per TDLR: “crew quarters (bedrooms) that are used exclusively as a residence by emergency response personnel and the kitchens and bathrooms exclusively serving those quarters must also comply with TAS residential dwelling standards.”
- The remaining bedrooms and restrooms, along with spaces used exclusively by fire fighters, like the Apparatus Bay or support spaces, must merely be adaptable. This means they must comply with TAS requirements for approach, entry, exit and maneuvering, but all the accessibility equipment, like grab bars, is not required.
The biggest impact from the 2012 TAS involves the kitchen, due to the following requirements:
- Clearance between all opposing base cabinets, countertops, appliances or walls within kitchen work areas shall be 60” minimum. This means a u-shaped kitchen with a center islands requires a 60” clearance around three sides.
- At least one 30” wide and 34″ high section of counter with knee space below must be adjacent to the oven (typical counter tops are 36″ high). For combination range/ oven units with a parallel approach, the knee clearance requirement does not apply.
- At least 50% of the storage in the kitchens and pantries should be base cabinets or open shelving complying with clear floor space and accessible reach requirements. This may inflate enclosed kitchen pantries beyond a reasonable size to accommodate a 5-foot wheelchair turning radius, especially if a refrigerator is inside.
- One kitchen sink must have a knee space below allowing a maximum 5″ deep basin. This typically means a second deeper sink is installed for dish and pot washing.
- Combination refrigerators and freezers shall have at least 50% of the freezer space below 54”. Side-by-side or bottom-freezer refrigerators satisfy this requirement best.
- Clear floor space is required adjacent to the dishwasher door with no obstruction from the open door.
- Appliance controls require one hand operation with no tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist more than a 5 lb. maximum force to activate.
At least one bedroom must be accessible, meaning that a 5-foot wheelchair turning radius, along with proper floor clearance and reach ranges are required at wardrobe units and exit windows.
At least one fire fighter bathroom and one of each type of plumbing fixture must also be accessible and comply with the following requirements:
- A 60” x 56” minimum floor clearance is provided at water closets.
- Lavatories must be a maximum 34” high and have knee clearance.
- Shower compartments must be a minimum 36” x 36” with a 36″ by 48″ adjacent floor space.
- Shower spray heads must be a hand-held type.
- Showers shall have a maximum 1/2” high threshold.
- Grab bars at water closets and showers, along with seats at showers are not required, provided reinforcing is installed in walls.
TAS (and ADA) doesn’t require non-occupied spaces, such as mechanical/electrical rooms, elevator pits, equipment rooms, crawl spaces and catwalks to be accessible. Storage spaces, such as closets and janitor rooms, may or may not need to be accessible, depending on their size. Storage spaces used by non-fire fighting personnel must be accessible.
Another significant impact from the 2012 TAS is that two-story fire stations now require an elevator, even if only used by fire personnel. A second floor will typically also require two exit stairs per the building code.
Other important design considerations may include:
- Accessible parking must be located on the shortest accessible route to the building entry.
- Exterior accessible routes (sidewalks) may not exceed 5 percent slope in the path of travel with a maximum 2 percent slope across the width of the travel path. If the slope exceeds 5 percent, it is considered a ramp and requires handrails on both sides and level landings at the top and bottom.
- Interior accessible paths (corridors) require a minimum 36-inch clearance width, but may be reduced to 32 inches for doorways without doors or cased openings as long as restrictions are no more than 2 feet in length.
- A wheelchair requires either a 5-foot turning radius or a “T” shaped turn-around.
- Doors typically require an 18-inch adjacent clearance to the pull side of the knob and 12 inches of clearance on the push side.
For a more in-depth discussion specific to your situation, please send Gary DeVries an email at email@example.com.
POSTED BY: Gary DeVries
BRW Architects will be attending the Southwest Fire Rescue 2012 Conference on March 10, 2012 through March 15, 2012 at the Embassy Suites and Convention Center in Frisco, Texas.
The Texas Fire Chiefs Association, the Texas Association of Fire Educators, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs come together at the Southwest Convention for a week long series of classes for those in the Fire Rescue industry.
BRW is delighted to sponsor the first annual reception for the Texas Fire Chiefs Academy graduates on Monday night at 5:15.
BRW Architects will also be present in booth 211 in the exhibit hall on Sunday and Monday, March 11-12th. For more information visit SW Fire Rescue.