Dawson County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services needed better fire and emergency medical services (EMS) coverage on the west side of the county, so it came up with $1.56 million to design and build what would become the county’s eighth fire/EMS station.
“That part of the county is a pretty mountainous area and we had pretty extensive response times out there,” says Danny Thompson, Dawson County’s chief. “We needed to reduce our response times for fire and medical calls and the way to do that was to add a new station out in that area.” Dawson notes that the $1.56 million allocated had to cover site improvements as well as the work done through a design-build contract.
Dawson County is a mostly rural county with a population of 27,000, located an hour north of Atlanta. “We have a lot of urban/rural interface with some mountainous territory,” Thompson points out, “and cover 214 square miles.” He adds that the new station houses an engine with a 1,000-gallon water tank, a 3,000-gallon water tender (tanker), and an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance.
“This is the first station we’ve built in 11 years, and a lot of things have changed in the fire and EMS service in that time,” Thompson observes. “We wanted to be sure that the new station had a number of safety features in terms of removing contaminants from the apparatus bays and keeping contaminants from getting into the firefighter living area.”
Scott Gordon, principal at CPL, the architect who worked with the General Contractor on the station, says his team used virtual three-dimensional technology in working with the chief and county stakeholders to show them exactly what the station would look like. “Through the software we use, we are able to animate the station and give them a 3D view from any angle of the interior and exterior of the station,” Gordon says.
“In regard to the important safety features the county wanted, we installed a Plymovent exhaust removal system in the apparatus bays where each apparatus is connected by a drop-down hose to the main system which exhausts to the outside, designed and built a vented and negative pressure turnout gear room to prevent any off-gassing from escaping, and designed an extractor room for turnout gear in the back of the apparatus bays, and an emergency decon shower in the apparatus bay,” he points out. “We also located the firefighter living quarters on the other side of the apparatus bays and in the back of the site, away from roads.”
Eric Randall, a civil engineer with CPL, says the structure is a pre-engineered metal building with metal panel walls and a metal standing seam roof. “In the design phase we found some site issues where it was determined that the county didn’t own a corner parcel on the site, so we flipped our design, but had to bring in a good amount of fill dirt where the site sloped off about 15 to 20 feet,” Randall says. “We also had to be careful about providing for storm water runoff quality, and the location of the water well and the septic system.” The resulting station, he notes, is 6,000 square feet with three apparatus bays, two double-deep drive-through bays, and one back-in bay for an EMS rig.
Thompson says the firefighter living quarters have six individual bunk rooms, including the captain’s quarters, with seven-foot-high walls that are open above that to the ceiling for better ventilation. “Each of the dorm rooms is oversized with three standing lockers and three foot lockers, along with a bed and nightstand. “We run 24/48 shifts, so the A, B, and C shifts each can store spare uniforms and personal hygiene items in their own lockers,” Thompson notes. “Each room has a ceiling fan, reading light, 120-volt wall plug-ins, and two USB ports. Nearby are oversized male and female bathrooms/showers.”
Located on the other side of the apparatus bays are the firefighters’ day room, dining room, kitchen, and operations room, Thompson says, which are segregated by a keypad entry and security cameras from a community room that holds 25 people, and male and female bathrooms that are accessed by the public from the front of the station.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.