Two Seattle (WA) Fire Department stations designed by the same architectural firm, part of a city of Seattle program to improve all 34 of its fire stations with either seismic upgrades or build new stations, won prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designations and Fire Industry Education Resource Organization (F.I.E.R.O.) Honor Awards, among other awards.
Fire Station 20 at 2800 15th Avenue West, designed by Schacht Aslani Architects of Seattle, was certified as LEED Platinum in 2015 with 98 points, the highest score of any new building the United States and the highest score of any fire station, and won the F.I.E.R.O. Honor Award in 2016.
Fire Station 30 at 2931 S. Mt. Maker Blvd., also designed by Schacht Aslani, was certified LEED Gold in 2010, won the F.I.E.R.O. Honor Award in 2011, a Seattle Design Commission Award for Design Excellence in 2011, a Copper Development Association award for copper in architecture in 2012, and an AIA WA Council Civic Design Awards citation in 2013.
David L. Jackson, Fire Levy program manager for Seattle, says Station 20 was the city’s smallest fire station. “It was so small, one of the firefighters staffing it had to sleep in the kitchen,” Jackson points out. “The station needed to be larger and provide more space for modern specialized firefighting equipment.”
Jackson notes the station needed decon rooms and a day room as well as apparatus bays large enough to fit any of the department’s fleet of vehicles at any time, from the biggest ladder to the smallest medic unit. “Neither Station 20, built in the 1960s, nor Station 30, built in 1949, had that capacity,” he says. “They were fine for their era, but needed to be replaced.”
Architect Eric Aman was involved in both station design projects, he says, “from the interview process with the city and fire department, through design, and completion of construction on the stations.” Aman started with Station 30, a neighborhood two-apparatus-bay station staffed by a crew of four. “The department had a need for emergency medical services (EMS) staff at the station, so we included future staff accommodation for two more members and more apparatus space,” Aman says. “We designed and built a 10,000-square-foot facility in the Rainer Valley, where it sits on a fairly busy arterial with heavy pedestrian traffic because of a light rail station across the street.”
Station 30 was built on a liquefaction zone, which is an unusual place to locate a fire station because of the type of soil, Aman says. “We had to make sure the structural system would support the loading of the apparatus,” he says. “Originally the department wanted a more traditional masonry appearance, so we looked at brick, stone, and block, but the soil conditions meant we needed a lighter frame system. We went with a wood frame with a metal skin above the concrete slab.”
The station has a physical training room on the second level as well as bunk rooms separated for crew privacy, each with its own environmental controls. The first level has two double-deep apparatus bays with stairs at each end leading to the second floor, decon rooms, office spaces, and the kitchen and dining area, which Seattle Fire calls “the beanery.”
In the interest of reducing energy use, the Station uses geothermal wells that reach down 300 feet underground to heat and cool the building, as well as clerestory windows to allow southern daylight into the station, while the station’s north side has plenty of window space around the apparatus doors.
Aman says that the heating and cooling in Station 20 is provided through a 14-well geothermal well field. “The station sits on a major commuter arterial, so we have an eco-science reader board to show citizens how the building performs during the day for water and energy usage,” he points out. “The apparatus bays deploy out onto a side street on the west side (about 20 feet lower than the east side) to prevent them from exiting onto the major street, and that orientation also optimizes solar exposure.”
Jackson notes Station 20 has its beanery, fitness room, lounge, balcony, IT room, generator, and two green roofs on the second level. The first floor holds the apparatus bays, a watch office, bunk rooms for six, storage spaces, and a workshop.
Photovoltaic panels on Station 20’s roof provide 30 percent of the station’s energy, Aman says, developing 35-kW of power. The 10,000-square-foot building is a concrete structure with metal sheathing built with 33 percent recycled materials, he adds, and features LED lighting throughout the entire structure.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and 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.