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  1. #1
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    Default Recycle a old building into a new station?

    Has any moved into or considered taking a non used existing building in their area and converting it to a fire station? We are looking at a large commericl property and split the builing between fire, police and township hall. The building in question has more then enough space for all three groups. May take a few $$$ to atleast convert the FD portion to make it work but is cheaper then a Brand new station. Any feed back or past experience?


  2. #2
    Forum Member TNFF319's Avatar
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    Thats exactly what my current dept did. We share with PD and the city hall. It saved a lot of money compared to building three buildings. The downside is it is NOT a fire station, in the way many picture. Its a safe place to store gear and equipment. It doesn't have the custom feel of a fire station. Spend some money and remodel the inside to fit your needs. I wish we had done that. All in all, you can make it work and save some cash.
    FF/Paramedic

  3. #3
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    I have worked in four police stations that were converted buildings built for other uses. One of those included a fire station with the building. Just as when you try to build a piece of fire apparatus to do more jobs that it was intended to do, I feel trying to convert a building to do something it was not inteded to do invites problems. What you seem to end up with is something that will do what you need it to do, but it won't do anything you want it to do very well. The up side is that you may save money initially, and if you have no choice but to take what you get, then by all means do it. However, from my observations, what usually ends up happening is that you will spend more money in the long run maintaining the building and re-trofitting things as problems develop, that you might save more money if you bite the bullet and build the correct structure to begin with.

    Problems you need to anticipate are ADA requirement (if it meets the definition of a public building), inadequate restroom and/or shower facilities, lack of proper maintance area, doors that do not hold up to the change in use, inadequate office space or poor layout of offices and overall layout in general. I think you get the picture. Just step back and take a look with a eye at the "if we do this, what will that end up doing?" and you should be able to make some intelligent decision....

    Good luck!
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  4. #4
    Forum Member TNFF319's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MetalMedic View Post
    I have worked in four police stations that were converted buildings built for other uses. One of those included a fire station with the building. Just as when you try to build a piece of fire apparatus to do more jobs that it was intended to do, I feel trying to convert a building to do something it was not inteded to do invites problems. What you seem to end up with is something that will do what you need it to do, but it won't do anything you want it to do very well. The up side is that you may save money initially, and if you have no choice but to take what you get, then by all means do it. However, from my observations, what usually ends up happening is that you will spend more money in the long run maintaining the building and re-trofitting things as problems develop, that you might save more money if you bite the bullet and build the correct structure to begin with.

    Problems you need to anticipate are ADA requirement (if it meets the definition of a public building), inadequate restroom and/or shower facilities, lack of proper maintance area, doors that do not hold up to the change in use, inadequate office space or poor layout of offices and overall layout in general. I think you get the picture. Just step back and take a look with a eye at the "if we do this, what will that end up doing?" and you should be able to make some intelligent decision....

    Good luck!
    That is what I was trying to say. It saves money, but it is not a good option if you can afford to build your own station. We had no choice. My vote is avoid this option if at all possible, but it will do what you need it to do.
    FF/Paramedic

  5. #5
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    Our station was at one time a school. It has at the moment 4 bays that house 3 trucks and an ambulance. It was used a long time ago before the new high school was built to have shop class and other technical classes. Its a nice place but its really old, and starting to fall apart. A few years back they demolished one end of the station because one of the bays used to house an engine was totally falling apart. So now we are left with 4 bays and a cement pad. The inside isnt at all roomy and has just enough space for the trucks and tools and hoses and our gear. We share the upstairs with the Rescue. We have been trying to get some form of Aid to build a new station but nothing so far. Its pretty bad at this point though because now water is starting to leak in from the roof and gather on the floors after each rain shower. But its a place to store our apparatus and for now its doing its job. hopefully in the future we will have a custom station.
    I think that your decision will work out to convert, but like some have said its not going to have all of the amenities that a real custom built fire station is going to have. Just make sure you leave yourself enough room for extra stuff.

  6. #6
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    The Alta Vista, VA Fire Department purchased an old Food Lion grocery store for their station. They added a concrete floor that was stable enough for the heavy apparatus, and then added offices, a day room, and all of the other things that you'd normally find in a station.

    After doing all of this, including having space for their fleet of 10 or so apparatus, they still had room left over. Therefore, they rented the remaining space out to a doctor's office, which pays rent to the FD every month.
    Career Fire Captain
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  7. #7
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    My firm has designed a firestation to be retrofitted into a warehouse structure. The layout worked out very well, however after developing budget costs, the company decided it would be more efficient to construct a new facility. Being that you are looking to share the space with 2 other municiapl functions, it may be worth your while to do some type of a feasibility study to determine if the structure will work for all the occupants of the building.

    Its not an easy decision and its not something you really want to just jump into. I agree with all the previous posts regarding what to look out for. You really have to analyze the building / structure to determine whether it is conducive to your needs. One of your biggest obstacles will be your budget, which will determine your ability to make improvements; if you don't own the building, you have the costs to acquire the property and then the costs to retrofit the spaces. Also, a thing to remember is that the building is an existing building, this may potentially affect the overall desired "indentity" of your firehouse/police station/municipal building by limiting what you could do to the exterior of the building.

    There are a number of other items that you should keep in mind regarding the infrastructure of the building. Does the slab have to be reinforced to support the weight of the vehicles? Most likely mechanical systems will have to be replaced? Electric services will have to be upgraded? Plumbing services may need to be increased in size or upgraded? Fire sprinklers? Vehicle exhaust? Any repairs to existing building? and etc. And on top of all this, you still have to construct the fit-out. Think of it another way, you are basically putting a new building in an existing exterior shell. And this is just the start of a long process.

    The concept can work very effectively if it is done correctly. A lot to think about, Good Luck

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