Round Lake (NY) Fire Department, which protects 20 square miles encompassing the village of Round Lake, the town of Malta, and part of the town of Ballston, had outgrown its main station, a 40-year-old pre-engineered metal Butler-type building in need of extensive renovation and that lacked the space needed to house the department’s larger and heavier fire vehicles, including a 75-foot aerial ladder quint. The department turned to Bonacio Construction Inc. to build a new station under a design-build contract.
“The towns of Malta and Ballston have grown tremendously in the last 20 years,” says Fred Sievers, Round Lake’s past chief and chair of the building committee. “The village has 700 residents, and there are 22,000 in the surrounding district. We wanted the new station to encompass the design of hot and cold zones, which was not possible in our older main station. Round Lake Hose Company, a non-profit corporation, engaged Bonacio, and we worked with them to interview three architects. We chose Balzer & Tuck Architecture because of their willingness to work with us on the design to reflect the adjacent Victorian historic district that’s on the National Register.”
Shawn Corp, senior associate at Balzer & Tuck, says the architects met with department representatives several times to discuss the layout of the new station. “There was great communication on the project,” Corp notes. “The building committee had a pretty good idea of the layout they wanted, but not how to make it work or what the exterior facade would look like, except that it had to be architecturally reflective of the historic district facades.”
Corp says Bonacio Construction removed the old 6,500-square-foot station, and then prepped the site prior to constructing the new 14,000-square-foot main station. “The department wanted a significantly larger station, hot and cold zones, more storage space, a training area, and a larger member’s room for the firefighters,” he says. “We designed in all those elements into the new two-story station, along with three back-in apparatus bays, and one double-deep drive-through bay. The apparatus bays are fitted with a MagneGrip exhaust removal system.”
The exterior of the new station has an historic feel to it, Corp says. “The front of the building is brick that turns the corners and runs for 14 feet down the sides,” he points out. “The rest of the sides and the rear of the building is horizontal metal panels, which are cost effective and low maintenance. The roof of the station is covered by a flat, white thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) single-ply membrane.”
Off the apparatus bays are a turnout gear storage room with its own ventilation system to remove any off-gassing and vent it outside, a decon room for cleaning gear and equipment, a radio room, and a standby room. “When firefighters return from a call, they pass through the decon area, which has a washer/extractor, dryer, shower, and double bowl sink for cleaning equipment, and then head back to the turnout gear room,” Corp notes.
On the back side of the building is the public entrance to an area that holds a community room, commercial kitchen, pantry, and bathrooms, which can be rented by the public, Sievers points out. Key fob access keeps the public area separate from the firefighters’ areas and apparatus bays. The second floor of the station has the chief’s office, the Hose Company office, a business area, and a member’s room that has a balcony with a glass wall that overlooks the apparatus bays.
Sievers says that dorm rooms were considered but deemed unnecessary in the new main station. “We share a station with Malta Ridge Fire Department on the border of our two fire districts,” he says. “That station has an unfinished second floor that can house dorm rooms in the future if we added paid firefighters down the road.”
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.