The Yuma (AZ) Fire Department covers 124 square miles in southwestern Arizona in the Sonoran desert along the east bank of the Colorado River, with 117 firefighters operating from six stations housing seven engines, an aerial ladder, an aerial platform, two reserve engines, a water tender, seven ambulances, special operations and technical rescue trailers, two UTVs, a Zodiac, and two jet skis for water rescue. When the department needed to replace an existing station and also build a new station to serve an expanded run area, it turned to Breckenridge Group to design the stations.
Steve Irr, Yuma’s chief, says the new Station 3 was placed in an existing residential neighborhood a quarter mile from the prior firehouse. “We had an older station servicing an area where the community grew, and our needs grew,” Irr observes. “We needed a bigger house to handle more firefighters, separate men’s and women’s restrooms, separate dorm rooms, and more apparatus bay space. We also wanted access to a larger main road, and the new site is one building away from a big intersection that allows us better response time.”
Klindt Breckenridge, principal at Breckenridge Group, says that the station had to be built “on a relatively small suburban site that’s very flat. The fire department didn’t want too much of an institutional look and didn’t want to overwhelm the neighbors, which mainly were low buildings constructed in typical desert fashion.” Breckenridge notes that with Station 3 his group had to get the building sited properly in order to provide the optimum space to make a turn and have enough clearance to get into the first bay of the new station’s three apparatus bays.”
Irr points out that the department felt the design needed quick access from the dorm rooms to the apparatus bays, a training room, decon space, turnout gear storage space, and air conditioning of the apparatus bays to allow firefighters to train inside the station—especially when Yuma’s temperature hits 120°F in the summer.
Breckenridge says the completed Station 3 is 9,475 square feet, has three drive-through 1½-deep apparatus bays, and houses eight firefighters. Individual dorms include a captain’s quarters and seven firefighter dorms, each with a pedestal bed having three drawers underneath, three lockers, a desk, and a chair. The dorms are located along two outer walls of the station, so each room has a window and immediate access to a corridor leading directly to the apparatus bays. Gang men’s and women’s bathrooms are located between the two corridors in the center of the station, as are three individual shower rooms.
Station 3’s kitchen, dining area, and day room are situated in an open concept with a viewing window into the apparatus bays. The station also houses a watch room, police room off the lobby, exercise room, communications room, EMS storage room, and a janitorial area. Off the apparatus bays are a decon facility, turnout gear storage room, hose storage room, and a work project room.
Irr says that Station 6 was built in a new neighborhood and new run area, so it’s not as large as Station 3. “It’s what we consider a small-size station, compared to a midsize station like Station 3,” he says. “Station 6 is 8,000 square feet, can house six firefighters, and has two drive-through 1½-deep apparatus bays that hold an engine and a reserve engine.”
Breckenridge says that the interior layout of Station 6 is similar to that of Station 3, with its six individual dorm rooms on the outside walls, rest rooms and showers in the center of the building, and a kitchen/dining area/day room facing the apparatus bays. Station 6 also has an exercise room, watch room, communications room, decon facility, and turnout gear storage room.
He notes that both stations have a non-load-bearing exterior wall stucco cladding system called Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS), as well as metal panel roofs. “While Yuma only gets four inches of rain a year, sometimes it all comes in a single day,” Breckenridge says. “Flat rooms often can’t drain that amount of water fast enough, so the department wanted sloped metal roofs, which also are very low maintenance.” He adds his group had to create grassy depressions at both stations that are used as retention basins to hold rain runoff, and also to fit in better with the neighborhoods.
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.