The Fire Station, The Station Articles

FDNY Expands and Renovates Engine 63/Ladder 39 Station

By Alan M. Petrillo

The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) housed an engine, ladder, and battalion chief in an older station that had cramped and outdated quarters on the northern edge of he Bronx, and wanted to renovate the structure and expand the building to house a battalion chief’s apparatus bay as well as to provide an adequate size space for the three elements to function well. FDNY chose The Galante Architecture Studio to handle the design and renovation of the station.

Ted Galante, principal at The Galante Architecture Studio, says one of the issues his firm faced with expanding the two-story station was that it could only expand at the front toward 223rd Street by 10 feet, another 10 feet on the left side of the structure, and 10 feet on the right side. “So, we pushed it out 10 feet on three sides, on both the first and second floors,” Galante says, to get more space for the battalion apparatus bay, an expanded entrance and house watch area, expanded kitchen, and more room for other areas.”



Galante points out that the expansion doubles the building’s size to 12,500 square feet and meets the stringent design guidelines set by FDNY. “We touched every space in the building except the second-floor egress stair and the apparatus bays, which had an engine and a tiller that had to be kept in quarters and in service.”

Paul J. Soehren, senior director of design, construction, and administration for FDNY, says that because of the station’s location on the northern edge of The Bronx, there were no other fire units to the north that could cover the station’s territory and no units conveniently located in other directions. “We had to keep operating the engine and ladder out of the bays and put up modular buildings for living quarters,” Soehren says, “which held the bunk rooms, kitchen, and day room. It was not the best set of circumstances, but among the designers, contractors, and our office, they were able to make it work.”

The first floor of the station holds the two apparatus bays and the battalion chief’s bay, a house watch area that was expanded to 100 square feet, a kitchen, dining area, day room, support spaces, and an ADA-accessible toilet, Soehren says. The second floor has offices, a fitness room, bunk rooms, and male and female toilet and shower facilities. The station also has a slab-on-grade partial basement that houses electrical equipment and a boiler.

Galante notes that the firehouse bunk room “is a gang bunk room with 12 beds and a partition between each bed. Nearby is a men’s locker toilet/shower room with 40 lockers, and a smaller female locker/toilet/shower room with six lockers.” The exterior of the station is clad in terra cotta and cement board panels, he notes, with a leveling plinth of concrete at the ground plane. “We rebuilt the facade of the building with a bank of windows across the front, and installed a sunscreen, the FDNY name, and a flag pole at the second floor level.”

The station won a F.I.E.R.O. (Fire Industry Education Resource Organization) silver award for its design, Galante points out. “It had to be a hardened building with very few and small openings at ground level,” he says. To provide security, we used 14-gauge stainless steel doors and small windows that would not allow a body to get through.”

Soehren says that the renovation and redesign “operationally works well for us with three bays,” and that Galante, “did a good job on designing and building what we needed. There are durable materials inside the building, which will last, and the final product suits our needs.”

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.