Petrillo, The Fire Station, The Station Articles

Ak-Chin (AZ) Indian Community Fire Station by Arrington Watkins Architects

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By Alan M. Petrillo

The Ak-Chin (AZ) Indian Community in Maricopa, Arizona, needed a new station and fire administrative center to replace a 1986 structure that the fire department had outgrown, especially because of a three-level addition to the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s casino, as well as a new multiple-floor high-rise hotel.

But, the Ak-Chin Indian Community has very specific requirements for the look and design of its buildings and landscaping, which meant that the new station needed very careful design consideration. Allen Allcott, fire marshal and division chief for the Ak-Chin Indian Community Fire Department, says, “The community wants to keep a uniform and traditional look, especially in our public buildings. Our fire chief sat down with the tribal council and reviewed the apparatus and equipment we had, and what we needed for the future.”

Allcott says that the council agreed on the need for a new fire station and administrative center. “We are putting up a 12-story hotel that will finish at the end of 2018,” he notes, “along with a five-story parking garage and three-story conference center. We’re also renovating our casino, which will be done in June. So, it was decided to increase our paid firefighters from eight to 12 per shift and purchase a new aerial device and another engine.”

Arrington Watkins Architects won the contract to design the new fire station and administrative center, says Matt Gorman, principal architect at Arrington Watkins. “We were selected out of about 10 architects that submitted designs,” Gorman points out. “We designed an 18,340-square-foot masonry building where the exterior skin of the structure is a color and pattern developed with the Tribe. “Culturally, they are basket weavers, so the building uses earthy colors and has a giant basket weave pattern on the side to give the structure more texture and interest to the viewer.” The Arrington Watkins-designed Ak-Chin station won a Design Excellence Award from the Arizona Masonry Guild.

Gorman says the fire station has four drive-through, double-deep apparatus bays, with an exercise room, laundry with industrial washers, and mechanical room adjacent to the bays. Turnout gear is stored on rolling racks within the apparatus bays, and a decon room is outside the bays, ringed in tile and with shower heads, accessible from both the interior and exterior.

The administrative side of the fire station is in the front section of the building and features a medical examination room for the public where paramedics provide an initial level of care for the community. “Until the mid 2000s, we ran the EMS first response for the entire area—even outside our community,” Allcott points out. “So, community members are comfortable coming to the fire station for medical assistance.”
The Ak-Chin station also has a day room that can be set up for meetings and training, a kitchen and eating area, and 12 individual dorm rooms, each consisting of one bed, three lockers, and three drawers under the bed for linens. Nearby are four individual bathrooms, each with a sink, toilet and shower.

Allcott notes that the station serves 34 square miles with 30 paid full-time firefighters and a reserve pool of 25 firefighters. “We’re a mostly rural, farming community,” he says. “And even with our new station, we have some shade structures out back for older and reserve apparatus that don’t fit in the new station.” Allcott says the department’s first-line apparatus includes a Ferrara 100-foot quint platform; one Rosenbauer and two Ferrara Fire Apparatus pumpers, each with 1,500-gpm pumps, and 750-gallon water tanks; a Ferrara tender (tanker) with a 750-gpm pump and 2,000-gallon water tank; a GMC 4500 brush truck with a skid unit pump and 300-gallon water tank; and six ambulances.

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.