Chandler, Arizona, a growing city in the center of the state and part of the Phoenix metropolitan area, has enjoyed enormous growth in population, housing, commercial activity, and industrial facilities that continues to this day. The Chandler Fire, Health and Medical Department has grown along with the city, currently having 214 paid firefighters and 20 civilian staff working out of 11 stations to cover a population of 260,000 in the city’s 71.5 square miles.
Chandler Fire Station No. 2811 is the department’s newest, designed by Breckenridge Group Architects Planners, and built on the premise of having an extremely functional workspace that provided room for growth in the future.
“We wanted to get as much operational impact as we could from the station, and also have enough space to add more apparatus in the future,” says Keith Hargis, Chandler’s assistant chief of the Administration and Emergency Management Division. Chandler Fire runs 13 front line engines, two aerial ladders, two water tenders, an air light unit, a heavy rescue, two medic units, two battalion chief vehicles, and six ambulances out of its 11 stations. Hargis notes that Station 2811 currently houses one engine company crewed by four firefighters, a medic unit, and occasionally a battalion chief.
Klindt Breckenridge, Breckenridge Group’s principal, says he faced a challenge from the beginning because of the site. “The property is at the southwest corner of Octollio and Gilbert Roads in Chandler and has a Roosevelt Water Conservation District canal adjacent to it that truncated the southeast corner of the site,” Breckenridge says. “In addition, there’s a wastewater plant next to the site that has a 60-inch diameter pipe running through the front of the property, so we had to set the station 150 back from the road.”
Breckenridge designed an 11,000-square-foot facility with three drive-through, double-deep 84-foot apparatus bays; 11 dorm rooms; four bathroom/shower facilities; an open concept kitchen/dining/day room area; offices; an exercise room/gym; laundry facilities, and storage rooms. He notes the structure is all masonry over a steel frame, with chipboard sheetrock over interior metal studs for the walls and a single-ply low-slope roof.
Hargis points out that Chandler Fire has moved away from open bunk rooms to the individual dorm rooms concept. “We wrapped the office and dorm rooms on the periphery of the station with the kitchen, dining area, and day room in the center of the living space,” he says. “Separating the living spaces from the apparatus bays at the other end of the building is a transition area that runs the width of the station and holds an air bottle filling station, charging stations for equipment, EMS storage, and stainless steel counters for working on equipment. This is a positive-pressure transition area that doesn’t allow any contaminants from the apparatus bays to be transferred into the living spaces.”
Hargis notes that there is no carpet in Station 2811. “This is our first station that has fully polished concrete floors throughout,” he says. “And, our firefighters don’t wear boots in the station, and instead wear station shoes in order to prevent carrying in any carcinogens.” Because there typically are only four to six firefighters housed in the station, each bunk room has a mini-split air conditioning unit that is individually controlled, allowing the units in unused dorm rooms to be turned off, saving energy.
“Breckenridge designed a clean, good-looking station that matches the surrounding area very nicely,” Hargis says. “It’s incredibly functional, has a very good flow to it, and a nice exit to the road. Our firefighters love it.”
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.