Mobile (AL) Fire-Rescue Department has opened its newest fire station—Station No. 18 in the Spring Hill section of the city, a 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that cost $2.5 million.
Jeremy Lami, Mobile Fire-Rescue’s chief, says that Station 18 incorporates the latest safety features for the department’s firefighters, including a decontamination room with particulate extractors and equipment for deconning turnout gear, a ventilation system to extract harmful fumes and gases from the apparatus bays, and fast-opening bi-fold apparatus bay doors to allow apparatus a safer, faster exit from the station.
Sandy McArthur, president of Watermark Design, the architectural firm that designed and built Station 18 for the department, says the new station is built on the same site as an older station from the 1950s that had outlived its usefulness. “Station 18 is based on a prototype building we designed for the city of Mobile,” McArthur points out. “This is the third station we’ve done, having previously built a three-bay and a four-bay station.”
Station 18 has two double-deep, drive-through apparatus bays located in the center of the single-story brick structure, he notes. “On one side of the apparatus bays is the administrative side of the station, with the captain’s office, decon room, fire sprinkler room, kitchen, turnout gear room, radio room, and public restrooms,” McArthur says. “There’s a laundry room with an extractor and turnout gear drier, which with the turnout gear storage area has its own ventilation system to keep contaminants out of the living spaces.”
McArthur continues, “On the opposite side of the bays are the living spaces for the personnel, which include four two-person dorms, a captain’s dorm, a captain’s bathroom and shower, and male and female bathrooms and showers. Typically, three to four firefighters will initially be operating out of this station, but the department wanted to allow space for additional firefighters during storms and other emergencies, which is why we have the four double-bunk dorms.”
Steven Millhouse, Mobile Fire-Rescue’s public information officer, says Station 18 currently houses one front-line pumper, one reserve pumper, and a seasonal warm-weather crew rehab truck.
Lami points out that Station 18 is the first station where the department installed four-fold apparatus bay doors that are designed to open in three to four seconds, which allow fire apparatus to exit the station faster when responding to emergency calls.
McArthur notes that the brick exterior of the firehouse is keeping in character with the upscale neighborhood where it is located. “We have an asphalt shingle roof over the apparatus bays with gable ends, parapets, and clerestory windows on the gabled ends to bring in natural light,” he says. “The two wings off the center section have low slope roofs, and the four-fold apparatus bay doors have windows and are painted the same color as the engines.”
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.