Center Township (IN) Volunteer Fire Department had contemplated replacing its existing station with one that would meet the future needs of the department and the township for several years, and only after the town trustee and advisory board members provided the funds and support necessary did the project progress, but not without a few bumps along the way.
Rod Carringer, past chief of the department and chair of the building committee, says the department had a four-acre property about a mile from the old station donated by the state of Indiana that was planned as the site of the new station. The township trustee, Lisa Pierzakowski, and the advisory board chose the design-bid-build method of procurement and hired DLZ Indiana LLC to design the station and oversee construction.
Stephen Kromkowski, principal architect at DLZ, says that the new site was a concern because it has a 150-foot drainage easement running through the center of the property. “We couldn’t build within that easement, so the department had to work with an adjacent landowner to purchase four more acres that would allow us to put up the station,” Kromkowski says.
The final design of the station as built has three double-deep, drive-through apparatus bays, a multipurpose kitchen-dining-day room that doubles as a sleeping area with four recessed wall beds, a unisex toilet/shower room, an open office area, and an open report writing area. “We incorporated all the current trends in fire station design,” Kromkowski points out, “hot and cold zone separation with positive-pressure ventilation system separation, easy access to the apparatus bays, and full bay vehicle exhaust system.”
DLZ designed a turnout gear room off the apparatus bays with a separate entrance from the living quarters. Across the hall are the laundry and washer/extractors for PPE, a toilet room, and janitorial closet, while at the other end of the apparatus bays are an SCBA fill station room, secured storage room, IT/records storage room, workroom, and water and electric utilities rooms.
Kromkowski notes that DLZ placed an emergency shower in the toilet room in the decon zone and also located an ice machine in a separate room out of the hot zone to prevent contamination. “We also put in a mezzanine above the support spaces along the edge of the apparatus bays,” he says, “which we used for mechanical systems and additional storage and also provided training access for the department with removable rails to allow them to do ladder work inside.”
The structure is an insulated preengineered metal building, Kromkowski says, with metal studs, wainscot masonry, and a standing seam metal pitched roof. “The station has an accent of blue,” he points out, “because the department’s colors are blue and white.”
Carringer notes that kitchen area is overly large and designed with the recessed wall beds for times of inclement weather when some of the department’s 25 volunteer firefighters might staff the facility, as well as serving as a sleeping area if the department ever staffs the station with paid personnel.
Pierzakowski says the future was foremost in the township’s thoughts when planning for the station. “The department is all volunteer right now,” she points out, “but eventually we expect that it will be a part-time paid fire department, so we built the station with that in mind by adding the four recessed wall beds, as well as having the two bath/shower areas. We are ready for part-time occupancy and also to serve as an emergency headquarters for the area if needed.”
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.