Petrillo, The Fire Station, The Station Articles

Brandon (Canada) Fire Hall No. 1 Divided into Two Formal Components

By Alan M. Petrillo

Brandon Fire Hall No. 1, the main station and administrative headquarters for Brandon (Canada) Fire & Emergency Services, won two Fire Industry Education Resource Organization. (F.I.E.R.O) awards for its design by Cibinel Architecture Ltd.

George Cibinel, president of Cibinel Architects, says his design team, working with consultant Don Collins of Collins Design Service, got approval from the fire administration and the town council for a 30,000-square-foot facility that replaces an outdated fire station and administrative center originally built for horse and carriage use in 1909. Cibinel says, “The two-story station is divided into two formal components—a fire hall wing and an administrative wing, separated by a public entry and landscaped plaza serving as a pivot that orients the fire hall wing with the street and aligns the administrative wing with a creek and slope to the northwest.”

Cibinel says his design team worked some unusual elements into the facility, including the addition of a museum that features a 1922 Seagrave pumper and other artifacts; a dramatic hose tower that acts as an urban marker for people entering the city of Brandon along 18thStreet, one of only two means of access to Brandon from the TransCanada Highway; and the incorporation of a province-wide 911 center (excluding Winnipeg) in the administration part of the station.

The hose tower, Cibinel points out, acts as a training facility through a complex series of walls and fire separations, with an exit stair that connects the industrial occupancy of the apparatus floor with the domestic occupancy of the dorms on the second level. “Beyond the technical requirements of the facility, we also were able to incorporate historic materials found at an initial site visit into a welcoming public museum and plaza at the front of the building,” he notes. “The resulting design has increased public presence and engagement with the community on behalf of the municipality, fire services, and the 911 call center.”

The station won a F.I.E.R.O. Fire Station Design Honor Award in 2014, and a F.I.E.R.O. On the Boards Fire Station Design Award of Merit in 2009.

Site development included filling and compacting the site to elevate it above flood levels, Cibinel adds, performing grading and drainage, building vehicle access roads, parking facilities, and a landscaped public plaza that features indigenous grasses and low-water plants.

Brent Dane, Brandon’s chief, says 60 paid full-time staff work out of the station, each qualified as a firefighter and paramedic. “We provide fire protection, emergency medical services (EMS), and transport to the 50,000 people in the city of Brandon plus the surrounding area for a 20-mile radius,” Dane says.

Dane notes that the apparatus side of the facility has five double-deep apparatus bays, with a kitchen, alarm room, SCBA fill room, turnout gear room, generator, and storage rooms on the first floor. The second floor on that side of the station holds a physical fitness room, male and female showers and locker rooms, washer and dryer room, and an open dorm. “While males and females have their own showers, bathrooms, and locker rooms,” Dane says, “we found they wanted an open dorm because they didn’t want to separate the crews.” Dane adds the department currently has five female firefighters.

Brandon Fire’s fleet includes an E-ONE 75-foot aerial quint, two engines (2015 and 2011 by Fort Garry Fire Apparatus), a rescue truck, a brush truck, and five ambulances. The department operates out of two stations.

The administrative side of the facility also is two stories, with offices for the chief and deputy chiefs, a board room, an inspection division with four offices, and the fire museum on the first floor. Half of the second floor is occupied by the 911 center while the rest holds two training officer spaces and a large training room. “I wanted access to daylight on the administrative side of the station, so half of one complete wall is all windows,” Dane points out. “Every office had to have a window that opened as well. Cibinel also gave us glass panels on interior walls to transfer the outdoor light to other areas inside the station.”

Cibinel notes that the main entrance to the fire station is through a public garden into an atrium where visitors encounter a front desk adjacent to the control room. “From there, they can walk past the museum and to the old brass pole from the original fire hall and continue through the space to an indoor/outdoor kitchen space at the back,” he says. “If they travel above the museum to the second floor, they come to a large classroom that is used for public safety training.”

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.