There are many options available to fire departments for apparatus room floor coverings, as well as different levels of protection for those floors.
Toughness, long life, abrasion resistance, appearance, and cost are some of the factors a department considers when laying down a new floor as well as when resurfacing an apparatus room floor in an older station.
John Adorjan, owner of Rhino Pro Flooring, says the concrete that makes up the floors of fire station apparatus bays is a rigid sponge, although most people don’t think of it as such because concrete is so hard. “Achieving a mechanical bond of the coating you are applying to the substrate, the concrete, is the key to success,” Adorjan says. “A fire truck weighs 12 times more per square inch than a car does, so we need to achieve that mechanical bond because if the substance applied isn’t bonded to the floor, you will have a delamination problem.”
|Rhino Pro Flooring put a three-coat polyaspartic finish on this drive-through station for the West Area Fire Department, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Rhino Pro Flooring.)|
Adorjan says Rhino Pro Flooring uses a three-headed diamond bonding machine to open up the capillaries in concrete. So when he puts down the first layers of his polyaspartic coating, it wicks down into the concrete. “We put down three coats of 100 percent polyaspartic,” he says, “a prime coat, a mid coat, and a top coat. Each coat is done within a couple of hours of the others. After the prime coat, we put down the mid coat, which is where we put in the color, nonslip, or decorative additives, and then the top coat to finish it off.”
Polyaspartic coatings were invented by Bayer Technologies in Germany, Adorjan says, and the original patent expired last year, making the substance more widely available. “The advantages of a polyaspartic coating are that it is four times more flexible than a two-part epoxy coating; has twice the abrasion resistance; is ultraviolet-light-stable, unlike epoxy; and won’t yellow with age,” Adorjan points out. “It also is resistant to hot tire peel, where epoxy is temperature-sensitive and can delaminate after reacting to a hot tire.”
After the final layer of polyaspartic is laid down, the surface is ready for foot traffic after about three hours, Adorjan says. And after 48 hours, the apparatus can be returned to the bays. “We can put any color or design into the floor, including logos,” he points out. “As for maintenance, keep the grit off of the floor as best you can. Gasoline, oil, diesel fuel, and hydraulic fluid will simply stay on top of the surface until you remove it, and they will not penetrate into the concrete. If the surface needs to be washed, you don’t need any chemicals other than a couple of capfuls of ammonia in water.”
Adorjan notes there is no limit to the size of the floor to be coated. “We have done up to 10,000 square feet at one time,” he says. “For a 7,000-square-foot job, it takes a little over a week from start to finish. The life of the floor is dependent on how well it’s maintained, but perhaps 10 years down the road a department might need a new top coat.”
|Murrell’s Inlet Garden City Fire Department, in Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, had Rhino Pro Flooring cover its double-deep station floor with a three-color polyaspartic finish design. (Photo courtesy of Rhino Pro Flooring.)|
Vince DeRienzo, regional sales manager for Armor-Tuff Fire House Flooring, says Armor-Tuff is the North American distributor for Supratile, manufactured by Armorpoxy. “This product is a 20- by 20-inch square tile that’s 6.5 millimeters thick and made of a PVC polymer. Interlocking, molded teeth on the tiles lock them firmly into place,” DeRienzo says, “and the floor won’t stain, chip, crack, or peel.”
DeRienzo says Supratile PVC polymers are injection molded at more than 500 tons of pressure into molds with tolerances of one ten thousandth of an inch. Supratile is available in 4.5-, 5.5-, 6.5-, and 7-mm thicknesses, but the 6.5-mm thickness is what the company recommends for apparatus room bays. “While the tiles can be laid loose on the floor, for fire department apparatus bays we usually use a two-part epoxy adhesive to glue the Supratiles in place,” DeRienzo points out. “Once the floor is applied, personnel can walk on it right away, and the fire apparatus can be returned to the bays after 24 hours.”
|Randolph Township Fire Department Mt. Freedom Company #3, in Randolph, New Jersey, had Armor-Tuff Fire House Flooring install Supratile as the covering for its station floor. (Photo courtesy of Armor-Tuff Fire House Flooring.)|
Supratile has a tensile strength of 2,700 pounds per square inch, DeRienzo notes, “and can take tire chains with no marks on the tiles.” If a tile is damaged, it can be replaced, he says, but adds, “In the three years we’ve been selling Supratiles, we have yet to replace one of them.” The tiles are nonskid and slip-resistant and available in black, gray, red, green, blue, orange, yellow, and custom colors, DeRienzo says, and can be line-striped if desired.
Mike DeCaprio, president of Engine Bay Floors, uses epoxy-based products to cover apparatus bay floors and other station areas. “We offer four options of different thicknesses measured in mils, which is one thousandth of an inch,” DeCaprio says. “Our Floor Resurfacing 4000 is 40 mils thick, Concrete Epoxy 8000 is 80 mils, Floor Coating 3200 is 32 mils, and Floor Epoxy 1600 is 16 mils thick.”
|The Watchung (NJ) Fire Department had Armor-Tuff Fire House Flooring cover its four-bay station floor with Supratile and line the bay edges. (Photo courtesy of Armor-Tuff Fire House Flooring.)|
DeCaprio says that more than 75 percent of the fire departments he’s worked with choose the 4000 series of floor finishing. “That’s ¼ inch thick,” he says. “Most departments want to do it once and not have to do it again.” DeCaprio adds that Engine Bay Floors has resurfaced apparatus bays from 800 to 12,000 square feet in size.
“The typical station is about 4,000 square feet and takes four days, but the smallest of stations would only take two days,” he notes. “Most of the stations choose floors in three colors, although departments can have more colors if they want them.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.
F.I.E.R.O. Fire Station Design Award Winner
Station: Charleston (SC) Fire Department Station 9
Architect: Rosenblum Coe Architects, Inc.