1. #1
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    Question Planning new station....

    OK, guys, I need some input here. After several years of trying to acquire a suitable site for a new main station, we finally purchased an ideal location a few months ago. Having depleted a big chunk of our savings to do so, we figured it would be a few years until we would be ready to build the station. However, we've been talking to the parish engineer (who apparantly knows a good deal about federal programs and funding), and he's working with us to try and secure some rural development grant money for the project...he says he thinks we have a pretty good shot, due in part to our location (the Katrina effect) and that not a lot of folks even know about the program.

    Long story short, we may be able to get started on this station a lot sooner than we expected. So now we're starting to consider our design options, what we need, what we want, how much it's all gonna cost.

    I'd like your input on matters of station design and construction, especially from those of you who have recently (or ever) been involved in a new station project or major renovation. First, a little background info on our department:

    -Rural, all volunteer (respond from home, no station staffing)
    -30-35 active members
    -Current main station houses 2 engines and a service/rescue truck. New station will obviously have to house these, but we will probably add at least one extra bay, if not more, for future expansion and additional equipment. Figure 4 bays minimum, maybe as many as 6 maximum.
    -Station site is at the junction of a fairly busy 2-lane highway and a rural, not busy at all side road. We are planning on having apparatus enter onto the side road as opposed to straight onto the highway, but either option is feasible.
    -Call volume is approx. 350 calls per year, of which well over half are First Responder/medical (only the rescue truck rolls on these)
    -Architectural "style" is not a factor, i.e., it can look however we want it to look (no historical district, etc.)


    Having said that, here are some of the questions/issues I have been pondering on for this project:

    -Living quarters: We're considering all possibilities for future growth, including the possibility that the station may have paid staff one day. Obviously we don't want to spend the money to build sleeping/living quarters we won't need yet, but we'd like to be able to make that change in the future if need be. We're thinking that the best way to do this is to have an unfinished upstairs area that can be finished out later should the need arise. Question: Any all-volunteer stations out there put in sleeping/living quarters "just in case"? If so, was it worthwhile or was it a waste of money? Also, any thoughts on making it a 2-story? There seems to be some backlash in recent years over big, sprawling 1-story stations, which have their own inherent problems....anybody go with a 2-story recently and regretted it later?

    -Drive-through vs. back-in apparatus bays: Your thoughts, pro's/con's of each, do you like them or not, and why (final design may dictate this for us, but at this time we think either could work on this site)

    -Auxiliary function areas, such as for decon, maintenance, cleaning, and storage....what have you found useful or necessary, including equipment (gear washers/extractors, utility provisions, etc.)?

    -General layout and administrative areas....offices, training/meeting rooms, kitchen, day room, etc.? Any suggestions?

    -We are not above using a pre-fab metal building as the basis for this station, if it makes a great difference in cost ("form follows function" is the mantra here...). Any thoughts on pre-fab vs. site built construction, preferences, etc., and why? We're not looking for the Taj Mahal here, it just needs to be functional....

    These are just some of the major areas I've been thinking about. I'm sure I'll have some more questions as we get deeper into the design process. Meantime, any thoughts or comments on the above items (or anything else, for that matter), would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Default

    Hey, I can post threads again! Woohoo!!!!
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Hmmm, Dwayne, I will draw something up and try to snag some pictures of our station. It sounds like it may be a bit big but the layout might be just up your alley.
    Last edited by backsteprescue; 07-23-2006 at 12:19 AM.
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    ok dwayne, after fighting with paint, I have decided just to draw it by hand in perm. marker and try to scan it.....it will not be perfect or to scale or anything but you can get a general idea of what the layout is.
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    How soon do you need it?


    Also, do I have your email????? I think so.
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    If you can, go ahead and build your living quarters, or at least make preparations for the future. Even if you plan to remain all-volunteer, sleeping quarters can be very useful. We have guys that sleep over on station on their nights off from work, and we've even had as much as 3 guys living there. Live-ins are a great asset to volunteer departments, because its basically like having a paid crew for free. They live there rent-free, in exchange for making fire/ems runs and taking care of the station(s).

    Already have half an engine crew on station, and a full-crew for any EMS run or service call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc
    -Drive-through vs. back-in apparatus bays: Your thoughts, pro's/con's of each, do you like them or not, and why (final design may dictate this for us, but at this time we think either could work on this site)
    Personally, all of our new stations have atleast 3 drive through bays. I would go drive-through versus back-in if you have the area/land to do so. First, it's hard to wreck a fire truck backing into the station when all you have to do is drive it in through the rear! Also, if you're backing in off of a busy road you're placing your members in danger stopping traffic.. amoung other hazards. Another plus would be eventually, if the department decided to purchase even more trucks, they could "double-up" and place one behind the other. Basically, that could double the number of units you could keep in your station. So in my opinion, go drive-through all the way! The only 'con' I could think of might be the land.. being that you'll need a larger station if you go drive-through.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc
    -Auxiliary function areas, such as for decon, maintenance, cleaning, and storage....what have you found useful or necessary, including equipment (gear washers/extractors, utility provisions, etc.)?
    I would certainly have a designated decon room/area. Gear washer/extractor is something that I would certainly consider. I'm not sure how well that will go over with the rest of the committee if A.)the department doesn't run several working fires back-to-back and B.)there is a department near-by that already has a gear washer. Not sure what they'll think, but I'd certainly recommend a washer. Also, something nice to have is a gear dryer. Obviously, the dryer is only a luxury.. but it's nice only having to wait 1.5 hr for your gear to dry instead of 1+ days!! Another 'luxury' type item which is very useful is an SCBA re-fill station. I'm not sure how your county operates, etc. in reference to cascade systems, but having one at the station is excellent. Again, obviously not a necessity.

    Also, I'm not a fan of a multiple story station. If you can, keep it to a single story. Multiple story stations increase the chances of firefighters getting injured and also (I'm sure) would increase the insurance rates. Also, something else to consider, if you build a multiple story station (since it is a public building and might be used by the public) you might need to add an elevator for the handicapped. That would just be an additional cost to consider. Considering the fact that currently there wouldn't be a crew staying at the station, a single story station wouldn't have to be too large. Also, if your department did eventually go paid.. one would think that they would initially only start out with 1 crew manning an engine. Figure that crew would be at least 3 firefighters, that 'living area' wouldn't need to be huge.. just enough to be comfortable for 3+ firefighters. That's just my .02.. take it for what it's worth!
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    Drive through station...YES! I say yes to this everytime. Reduce the possibility of a collision with the structure. Better overall station operation.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    Your Architect/Design Professional can make or break the whole project. Try to use one that is familiar with or has done fire stations in the past, or at the very least one who designs commercial buildings. I did a quick yahoo search, heres one that specializes in public safety buildings: http://www.mitchell-architects.com/ Located in NY, but might be worth a phone call, at least ask them if they can reccomend someone in your neighborhood.

    1. SPRINKLERS

    2. Plan your anticipated closet/storage space and then TRIPLE it even if you dont think you need it. (Trust me we learned our lesson on this.....we built our new place about 14 years ago and are paying for the "lack" of storage space/closets)

    3. In-Slab Radiant Heat in the bays- WOW!

    4. Kitchen: Remember to design a kitchen/dining area that can support (???) people. The kitchen incorporated in our design was no where near what it has to support now. 14 years after the fact there are rumors of a major kitchen renovation.

    5. Sleeping Quarters/Living Space: A must. Whether or not you go with small bunkrooms (1 or 2 person rooms) or larger "common" bunkrooms is up to you. If you do choose to go with a common bunkroom, design it large enough so that you can incorporate cubicles inside- allowing some privacy for each member. I worked in a station a few years back that had cubes big enough for 1 bed, 2 lockers and a small desk. You shared it with your shift opposite. Common bunkroom yes, but at least gives some privacy, and also puts a wall in between you and all the snorers.

    6. Vehicle Maintenance Space: Anticipate the tool room/vehicle/equipment maintenance space, and then at least double if not triple what you think you need. Remember to allow for workbenches, tool boxes, storage lockers and flammable liquids cabinets, etc. Remember a slop sink, too!

    7. Emergency Back-Up Power: remember to get a gen set big enough for, and to connect the environmental systems (heat AND A/C) into the gen set, along with enough power to run the radios, telephones, some lights and food prep areas.

    8. Use the environment to your advantage: Solar hot water heating combined with radiant slab heat can save you tons of money. Also look into geothermal heat/air conditioning.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Thanks for all the good input, folks....We'll be seriously considering the drive-through option, but the depth of the lot may not allow it (too tight a turn to get in the back door). I don't know, we'll see.

    Gear washer/extractor is something that I would certainly consider. I'm not sure how well that will go over with the rest of the committee if A.)the department doesn't run several working fires back-to-back and B.)there is a department near-by that already has a gear washer.
    No, pretty slow as far as actual working fires go...Washer would be nice, dryer might be optional at best. No departments around here have a gear washer, either.


    Another 'luxury' type item which is very useful is an SCBA re-fill station.
    Already have our own cascade/compressor system, and yes, it's very nice to have your own in-house. Just need to decide where to put it.

    Also, something else to consider, if you build a multiple story station (since it is a public building and might be used by the public) you might need to add an elevator for the handicapped. That would just be an additional cost to consider.
    Yes, that angle has been mentioned already by the engineer who's working on the grant for us. Not sure exactly how the law applies (i.e., can there be "public" and "non-public" areas or does the entire station have to be accessible...) We'll definitely be researching that point carefully.

    In-Slab Radiant Heat in the bays- WOW!
    Don't think that'll be necessary...we only get 2 or 3 days below freezing down here annually, and then just barely.

    Good thoughts, though, everybody, keep 'em coming!
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Dwayne, you might want to check with some of the Boyzzz from Illinoizzzz who have recently gone through this.

    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthre...t=construction
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    As for elevators: I know of atleast three recent stations in volunteer dept.s that were forced into elevators due to ADA requirements even though they only access non-public areas. They want to ensure that you have the ability to hire handicap firefighters. Don't even say that you won't, because the cost of the elevator will look cheap!

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    I also say put in the sleeping quarters. Even if nobody sleeps there normally, they are good to have when all #@!! breaks loose. Such as fires in our case or whatever long duration disasters you may come across.

    Also do not forget emergency power. I am partial to a propane genset myself. Even better if it is hooked to natural and can switch to propane automatically of the natural goes away. Make it automatic and self sufficient for a week and capable of running all loads of the station like nothing had happened. Also consider potable water during this time. In my opinion the fire station is the first line of defense when bad things happen, therefore it needs to continue to be nearly 100% operational with a minimum of hassle to the firemen until reinforcements can arrive....

    Along those same lines I put in all the stations a high power radio and a big antenna even though we normally use repeaters. That way if we lose all communications infrastructure we still have a good chance of communicating between stations and mobiles at least, though hand helds might be spotty but at least it would be something.

    Also along those same lines the last station we built, we had the phone company pull in a 50 pair cable. (We use 6 lines.) We did this because if the station needs to become a command center for some kind of large incident, we will have the phone capacity available.

    Just some random thoughts, of things I think we did right.

    Birken

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    1) Drive-thru at least in the concept of double-deep bays

    Consider at least having the back doors "framed" when you build it, and just walled over if the cost of the extra overhead doors is too much. Far easier to do it now, and avoid running electric, water, etc through that area that would have to be moved later.

    And my gut says in most conditions, it cheaper to build deeper than wider.

    Over the 50 years or so a municipal building should be planned to last, you may be getting longer trucks, or trailers, or buying adjoining land to make a drive-thru practical.

    Might also consider agreements with the neighbors -- our station is in a historic village, and 75% of our pavement sits on property owned by the Library, Espicopal Church, or the person who owns a house down a private road behind the station. We take care of paving, plowing, and landscaping in exchange to use the lands.

    I'm not too concerned about backing, if it's really a problem you can install bollards for a lot less then overhead doors to protect the building.

    If you're using a drive-thru, double deep style station with "back-to-back" apparatus you can bolt a length of curbing to the floor to give a hard stop for the drivers if the trucks are tight. Leave the bolts exposed so you can move them easily for the odd-ball times you have to squeeze extra apparatus in or use a rolling scaffold in the station or whatever.

    2) Generator choice depends IMHO if you can re-fuel your own trucks.

    If you can get a diesel tank installed to re-fuel your trucks (huge convience...we lost ours ), I'd use a diesel generator plumbed to that supply.

    Propane has an indefinite shelf-life, but you need specialized equipment to refill it...which may or may not be functioning for weeks after a natural disaster.

    Diesel needs to be rotated regularly, but simple trucks or even 5 gallon Jerry Cans can transport fuel and refill it. Having the truck fuel tank double as it's supply means the fuel is rotated...else, I'd go with propane as a fair tradeoff.

    Even if you're not putting in a generator, at least wire for it so you can use a truck generator to power critical circuits in the station.

    3) Decon station.

    Big, deep work sink and a big counter -- at least big enough to lay a backboard on, next to it so you have some place to clean off contaminated EMS stuff easily.

    4) Piped air...

    I'm not sure this is the way to go with the newer battery conditioner / air pumps being used on new trucks to keep them ready to go.

    We use an airline piped from the basement located compressor, with drops to each truck except the newest two which have the Kussmauls.

    My main point on this...make sure when it's installed it has the proper angle and at the end has a drop that comes down to a drain so you can blow the moisture out regularly.

    5) When you order your overhead doors...order a couple extra remote controls for each of them. Give them to your drivers / members who are usually early to arrive at the firehouse. Just a little bit faster than fumbling around with keys.

    (I'd love a key-fob electronic locks too, but that may not be in the budget).

    6) Fire alarm as a minimum. Fire sprinklers preferred.

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    If or when you do build living quarters make sure you install plenty of showers and shi... umm.. I mean toilets.
    I can't believe they actually pay me to do this!!!

    One friend noted yesterday that a fire officer only carries a flashlight, sometimes prompting grumbling from firefighters who have to lug tools and hoses.
    "The old saying is you never know how heavy that flashlight can become," the friend said.
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    Thumbs up And The View From Here...............

    Dwayne, I've been involved in Station Construction on a number of occasions thru the years. Here's some items:
    First - Things to do:
    1. Single Story on a slab.
    2. Sprinklers.
    3. Drive thru Bays.
    4. Living Quarters.
    5. Generator, at least twice as big as you think you'll ever need.
    6. Twice as many Bays as you think you'll ever need.
    7. Locate all Utilities (Electric, phone, cable, Etc.) in a secured room.
    8. Air Conditioning.
    9. Adequate Storage Space.
    10. Adequate Office Space.
    11. Adequate Parking.

    Things NOT to Do:
    1. Steps of any kind.
    2. Locate Members Parking Away from Access Doors.
    3. Mix Living, Office, and Work areas.

    Here's some comments on my list: Anywhere and everywhere that I used the word Adequate, Figure out what you think you need, then double it. EVERYONE, and I include myself, underestimates the need for space to support the operation of a modern Fire/Rescue facility. We have drivethru bays, but we park apparatus Back-to-Back so that no vehicle has to be moved to allow another to get in or out. Explore the idea of getting a Traffic Light to help you get on and off the Highway. Couple of points about Hurricane Country: Your Builder and Architect will be well versed in putting up buildings that will stay up. Ask them if Rollup Bay Doors with all Glass Panels will work. This will provide extra light, and presents an outstanding appearance. Make sure your station can be self-sufficient for a week, after the "Big one" hits. (Large Fuel Tank, Food Storage and Prep. facility, Water, Etc.) If you wish, PM me with your Phone number, and a good time to call. I can give you a lot more info.
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    Default A few ideas

    1) Restroom access from apparatus bay
    2) Vehicle exhaust system
    3) Water fountain in bay

    Good luck build your new station

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by tomlaumann
    2) Vehicle exhaust system
    I was wondering why this hadn't been mentioned yet ... or maybe I missed it.
    Last edited by RspctFrmCalgary; 07-23-2006 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Because I couldn't find sources to back up my comment so I deleted it
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    2) Vehicle exhaust system

    Meant to mention that

    Our main bay uses a 24" 220v fan, centered about 30" off the floor. The newest addition has a similiar setup.

    It's wired to switches on the side of the garage doors, once their up a couple inches the fan starts up. Doors are on a timer which keeps them open about 6" for a couple minutes before fully closing which gives time to finish exhausting the station before they close.

    I'm sure it's not as effective as the hoses on tailpipe systems, but sure is simpler and easier to use and certainly less costly.

    We previously had an exhaust fan in the cupola...this system works noticeably many times better, measured by going from annually washing the soot off the walls to know maybe one time in between re-painting the walls every 8 years or so.

    ===================
    One other simple convience:

    Plumb in a manual mixer (and check valve) to send hot water out to the apparatus bay garden hose plumbing.

    Of course, our station is hot water heated so we have the boiler to easily handle it, but even with a good size domestic HW system...sometimes it's real nice to have at least warm water when washing equipment down.

    If you're putting in a decon area in the apparatus bay, probably could put the HW garden hose tap right there, too.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 07-23-2006 at 02:16 PM.

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    Thumbs down Nope............

    Quote Originally Posted by RspctFrmCalgary
    I was wondering why this hadn't been mentioned yet ... or maybe I missed it.

    You didn't miss it in my post, I hate the damn things. Sorry, that was rude. But, anyway, I have yet to encounter a "User Friendly" Exhaust system. At least, anything technically more advanced than an exhaust fan, mounted high up in the structure. All these damn hoses, Etc. are too cumbersome, too "Hi-tech" for the "Firehouse Mechanics" to fix, and too fragile for Fire/Rescue people to handle. Dal mentioned a Fan up in a cupola, which is the least bothersome. I'd also stress that Stacks on all Apparatus would help as well.

    Just thought of something else. DO NOT consider, much less install, automatic door timers. If you do, I will Guarantee you that someone will demolish a door with a piece of Apparatus.
    Last edited by hwoods; 07-23-2006 at 05:17 PM. Reason: Nunya........
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    Considering your location, do you use the station as an EOC? Will you ever need too? And I assume you will be useing construction methods that are "storm friendly"...

    That all fits with my view on sleeping areas. Volly or not, do it. Worse case, it may be the only suitable building to conduct operations from for an extended period.
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    A lot of excellent points have been raised here. I though that I would throw in my 2-pennies worth, as the contract to building our new station for my VFD was just awarded last month.

    It sounds like your department is a lot like ours:
    - Provide fire supression, extrication, and EMS first response
    - Pumper, Tanker, heavy rescue, brush truck, Suburban for EMS
    - 35 members, 18 active
    - 600 calls/year, 50% EMS
    - Duty crew 2 nights a week

    Our new station is going to be approximately 15,000sf. We have roughly $2M budgeted by the county to build the station, but with the rising construction costs over the past 18 months, we feel sure that $2M isn't going to meet our needs. We're working with the architect to see how we can remedy this.

    When we started looking at this process a couple of years ago, we spent MANY weekends driving to stations that 5-years-old or less. We traveled as a far as 200 miles to see what worked and what didn't. One of the things that we were lucky about is that we were able to make contact with Stewart, Cooper, and Newell Architects (SCN Architects and SCN fire facilities) early in the process. SCN has been awarded a number of awards in Fire Chief magazine's annual Station Style contest, and they met us at some of the stations that they'd designed. We were able to tour the stations with the guys who designed it AND the guys who use it every day. Although the contract was awarded to another architectural firm, the guidance provided by having an architect involved so early was invaluable.

    We ended up putting seven single-person sleep rooms in our facility. Although some of them will be used rarely, we're looking at the very real possibility that we'll have career staff in our station within five years, and we're trying to plan ahead.

    As hwoods said, DOUBLE the amount of storage space that you think you'll ever need. This was a common thread amongst the stations we visited -- "we wish we'd put more storage space in."

    Make sure sprinklers are installed. How about a weight room? Decon areas are a must, as is a small toilet that be easily accessed from the bay.

    If there's any other advice I can give, please let me know. I've been intimately involved in our building process for the past 24 months, and would love to share with you anything that might help.

  23. #23
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    RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods
    You didn't miss it in my post, I hate the damn things. Sorry, that was rude. But, anyway, I have yet to encounter a "User Friendly" Exhaust system. At least, anything technically more advanced than an exhaust fan, mounted high up in the structure. All these damn hoses, Etc. are too cumbersome, too "Hi-tech" for the "Firehouse Mechanics" to fix, and too fragile for Fire/Rescue people to handle. Dal mentioned a Fan up in a cupola, which is the least bothersome. I'd also stress that Stacks on all Apparatus would help as well.

    Just thought of something else. DO NOT consider, much less install, automatic door timers. If you do, I will Guarantee you that someone will demolish a door with a piece of Apparatus.
    That's not rude, just your honest opinon, Harve!

    Thanks for the different view.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    To clarify for Harve...

    **Don't** do the fan in the cupola.

    We did that for about 10 years, from 1984 to mid-90s.

    At that point we switched to a fan mounted low...works much, much better.

    From the outside:
    (As an aside, it's a '73 Mack CF pumper which was ordered new by one of neighbors...quite an investment in our area at the time...and a '76 CF Ladder which we bought used in '90. Photos taken when the replacements for each where being built)

    From the inside, the big square box at waist height, directly below the "M" on the sign on the wall.


    Not a good pic...but all I have right now. Allen Bradley industrial limit switch mounted to the door rail. Door has a bracket (homemade?) that trips the arm on the switch. There's a relay between these switches and the 220v fan.



    OH -- AND TAKE PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS during site prep & construction, so 20 years from now when you go to do something, you can refer back and take a look at what went where before the pavement went down the sheetrock went up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    (I'd love a key-fob electronic locks too, but that may not be in the budget).
    If you ask me, that's a must. Who's to say that the guys will always have their keys on them? Only thing is that you need to make sure nobody leaks the code.

    Food for thought...

    Consider CO2 detectors attached to the fans and bay doors to open them if the level gets too high.

    A meeting room if you have the space for it.

    VoIP telephones and wire your firehouse for a network, or if you don't do either of those, have your phones wired with Cat5 or Cat6 cable because they can support up to 4 phone lines, and if you ever decide to go toa VoIP phone system, the wiring is already there.

    Give your firehouse room to breath so that there is plenty of room for firefighters to get to their gear and on a truck.

    Put in a hydrant and a stand pipe for training.

    And most importantly, make sure you put a big flag pole out front and a big American flag on it.

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