Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY) Rescue Company 2 is working out of a 21,414-square-foot state-of-the-art station in Brooklyn that was designed chiefly with training in mind as well as housing the apparatus and firefighters assigned to the company. The new rescue station at 1815 Sterling Place is in the Crown Heights/Weeksville/Brownsville area of Brooklyn.
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William Flaherty, Rescue 2’s captain, says the structure was built as a “training apparatus”, which enables the rescue company’s ability to prepare for all emergencies. Included in the station are a trench rescue training area, a manhole for confined space rescue, a simulation room that can be made to simulate smoky conditions, a 46-foot-high training wall, a training catwalk, and a tie-back on the roof for rappelling.
He points out that the apparatus floor is a flexible space that accommodates four rigs and accessory spaces such as workshops, training spaces, a kitchen, dining area, and lounge at each side of the two double deep, back in bays. “In addition to the two main doors at the front of the station, we have one rear door where we can back the rigs out into the rear yard so we have room to drill with the various rescue disciplines available to us in our training areas,” Flaherty says.
Offices, a firefighter dorm with six beds, a separate dorm for officers, locker rooms, gender-neutral shower/toilet rooms, a female shower/toilet room, and a fitness room are on the station’s second floor, Flaherty adds. Rescue 2 has a captain, three lieutenants, and 25 firefighters on its roster, with one officer and five firefighters working a shift.
Michaela Metcalf, director of the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) Project Excellence Program, points out that DDC is the agency that oversees most of the city’s capital projects, including FDNY. “We hold contracts with architectural firms that are aligned with our mission of achieving project excellence,” Metcalf observes. “With the function of a firehouse providing a critical piece of infrastructure to the city, we want to make sure we get the design right. We issued an RFP to firms on contract, went through a selection process, and awarded the project to Studio Gang Architects.”
Metcalf notes that “Studio Gang Architects worked on a weekly basis with stakeholders to meet the Project Excellence Programs’ requirements of aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability, and durability. They were able to connect with FDNY personnel and members of the DDC project team, engaged the community and the community board through public meetings, and rose to the challenge in designing Rescue Station 2.”
She points out that Studio Gang Architects was able integrate the red terracotta used on the city’s historic firehouses into the new station. “They brought that forward into a contemporary rendition on the facade,” Metcalf says, “with simple, understated precast concrete panels, along with the elegance of terracotta in the openings on the building.”
Studio Gang Architects included a number of environmentally conscious design elements in the new Rescue Company 2 station, including geothermal heating and cooling with a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system from nine wells on site, solar heated domestic water with photovoltaic (PV) panels for energy to power the pumps, a dimmable LED lighting system with occupancy sensors, low-E glazing with frit (a ceramic component), a centrally located 20- × 40-foot skylight to maximize daylighting, operable windows for ventilation, a green roof to reduce the urban heat island effect and help mitigate storm water runoff, and an underground storm water detention tank to control runoff.
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.