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  1. #1
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    Default A.D.A. Compliance in the Firehouse...

    In recent years we have had to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when renovating our fire stations. Until now, this has meant providing at least one restroom that was ADA compliant for public use.

    Now, on the verge of starting renovations for three more stations, we have been informed by our Building Department that our kitchens must also be in full ADA compliance (low countertops and small shallow sink). This has us scratching our heads because the public does not utilize our fire stations for cooking and handicapped persons would not pass our Physical Abilities Test for employment. Our Chief has said there is nothing we can do about as complinance is mandatory under federal law.

    I can understand the ADA restroom but an ADA kitchen seems utterly ridiculous to me. Is anyone else out there experiencing this? If so, has your organization been able to get around this or come up with a different interpretation of the law?


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Political correctness run amok...

    When our HQ station was built in 1995, we were suppoosed to have a second floor on the living quarters side of the station for future additions to personnel.

    ADA said we would need an elevator for "handicapped firefighters"...

    The also held up our moving in by three months because the sidewalk cuts for wheelchairs to the admin side were off by a quarter of a degree... the adjacent sections had to be jackhammered out and new sidewalk cut poured.

    What's next.. wheelchair lifts for fire apparatus?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  3. #3
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    Austin, TX had one Firehouse built with every aspect ADA...sinks, countertops...every door, restroom, shower..etc. Complete waste of taxpayer funds. They did it once and never did it again to the best of my knowledge. It is Engine 30 something I think out there...can't remember.

    There was a mention in Fire Chief Mag recently regarding a politican who saw the waste in handicaped showers and elevators. He wrote the Feds for some guidance on the issue on why they needed an elevator.

    (I salute this public servant who obviously hasn't been corupted by the system to think with the brain dead crowd.)

    Needless to say the bureaucrats in DC used no F*cking G*dd@mned sense and told them that since it was a public building they needed complete ADA access.

    There was no discussion of UFAS vs. ADAAG...or the spending limitations of municipalities, nor the operational realities of the fire service, nor the benefits of muli-storied firehouses in some circumstance which are made un-affordable by one of the most poorly crafted laws ever enacted by our government.

    Perhaps if enough people reach out with their views and offer some political incentive...(ie- the "Green" benefits of two story firehouses) more politicans would be willing to look at this and revise the law.

    An interpretation of UFAS standards originally applied to the military was used in the past to get plans for firehouses approved, this involved the able bodied areas..essentially...the public area was the apparatus floor...quarters for the men wasn't public...so therfore didn't need to be accessible for the handicapped.

    Perhaps a State rep could get this tacked on to a bill and few if any would notice.

    One way to get around this issue is to litterally design the structure and space for an elevator along with service ducts..etc. And drywall it in and use it as a storage closet or office. If in the unlikely event someone sues and WINS....again unlikely...you can just install the elevator for cheap and loose a closet.(I would say it is a wise bet you'll never have to install that elevator)

    This has been done in a few Major FDs(I won't mention where so they aren't outed by some clown with an adgenda) but they are operational and functioning today.

    The only other hope is either for your dept to take on the liability and build without handicaped showers, or wait for one of us Depts that do so...to be sued and win in court...thus opening the way for common sense spending and design in firehouse construction.

    FTM-PTB
    Last edited by FFFRED; 11-26-2007 at 06:03 PM.

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    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e46rick View Post
    Now, on the verge of starting renovations for three more stations, we have been informed by our Building Department that our kitchens must also be in full ADA compliance (low countertops and small shallow sink).
    This isn't necessarily the case but, depending on how well you and your Building Official get along it may or may not be worth fighting.

    If you design your building such that the crew quarters are sufficiently distinct and separated, there's no need to go the whole ADA route for exactly the reasons you've stated. If the space is for the exclusive use of the on-duty firefighter crew, it's generally possible to omit many ADA requirements.

    You need a sit-down between the Chief, the BO, the Fire Marshal (if you have one), and the architect. If you can't come to a compromise suitable for the BO, find out what the appeal process is in your jurisdiction. They may be able to overturn the BO's interpretation.
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 11-26-2007 at 08:15 PM.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    This isn't necessarily the case but, depending on how well you and your Building Official get along it may or may not be worth fighting.

    If you design your building such that the crew quarters are sufficiently distinct and seperated, there's no need to go the whole ADA route for exactly the reasons you've stated. If the space is for the exclusive use of the on-duty firefighter crew, it's generally possible to omit many ADA requirements.

    You need a sit-down between the Chief, the BO, the Fire Marshal (if you have one), and the architect. If you can't come to a compromise suitable for the BO, find out what the appeal process is in your jurisdiction. They may be able to overturn the BO's interpretation.
    I think the Marshall is on to something. We have a station with a "meeting room" in it. They had to add an ADA sink, and ADA compliant bathroom adjacent to the meeting room. However the living quarters were allowed to be built with the users in mind.

    I know people get upset about the ADA laws, but keep in mind they were designed to ensure accessibility to government-- that's a good thing. If your concerned about the application of the law call your senator.

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    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    I can tell you that here, 100% of our fire stations are being required to become ADA compliant in all areas designated as public accessible, and some areas that are not. These changes are being made as the only renovation to the building, not as other non ADA renovations are being done.

    The spin here is that although pointless and a complete waste of time and money, it is required to be eligible for Federal grant money. I do not know if that is true or not.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    I hope someone comes up with a dose of common sense. Two of our three houses have hadicap showers. Have you seen the mess that a hadicap shower makes?
    I really don't care if a guy in a wheel chair rolls by, he isn't taking a shower at my station. What kind of insanity is that?
    We have that closet / future elevator shaft in my house. Because we don't have the elevator we can't even store stuff in our basement according to our admin. We wanted to put a larger workout room in our basement. No way, We would have to install the elevator.
    All the toilets are wierd heights, some of the sinks are missing cabinets under them, and a place by me has the ADA complient kitchen, complete with the backbreakingly low kitchen sinks.

    Some day the insanity must end.

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    all our stations have or are in the process of being remodeled and earthquake proofed..my house was built in the early 50's and now the crew side looks like an old folks home...ADA shower, handles around the toilets etc...ADA public bathroom which is fine. our countertops in the kitchen remained at the same height someone said its because we argued that it would cause back problems. we have stations with elevators now that run to the crew quarters. My only problem with all this is that this was bond money voted on and payed for by taxpayers to seismically upgrade our stations, and were throwing their money into showers and elevators that the public is never going to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I can tell you that here, 100% of our fire stations are being required to become ADA compliant in all areas designated as public accessible, and some areas that are not. These changes are being made as the only renovation to the building, not as other non ADA renovations are being done.

    The spin here is that although pointless and a complete waste of time and money, it is required to be eligible for Federal grant money. I do not know if that is true or not.
    Sounds like they are applying the common sense approach and using UFAS standards which essentially allow for able-bodied use areas not to be ADA accessible. If you have restrooms available to the public..then whatever is in those restrooms needs to be ADA, same for the access of these areas.

    However if you have Dept regulations that stipulate that the public isn't allowed out of a certain area then under the UFAS abled-bodied exception the rest of quarters need not have brail, hand rails, those showers that let water all over the floor.(Imagine living in an appartment beneath someone using a handicapped shower, water leaks all the time!)

    As for the Depts that installed or are looking to install elevators and Handi-showers such...write your local politician and explain what a complete waste of tax dollars this is and how it could be better spent on (insert favorite social program or pet project of said Politician) and see what kind of response that generates.

    FTM-PTB

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    Just to throw my two cents in. I have 24 years in my dept. I recently under went spinal surgery for removal of hardware from a previous accident. I woke up paralyzed from the waist down. Since then Iíve regained most function except 50% use of my right leg. Just because of this should I be exempt from running for a trustee position, serving on committees or run for president of our company. In most depts firefighting is 50% of the duties that occur. You sometimes have to think outside the box.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neversaydie69 View Post
    Just to throw my two cents in. I have 24 years in my dept. I recently under went spinal surgery for removal of hardware from a previous accident. I woke up paralyzed from the waist down. Since then Iíve regained most function except 50% use of my right leg. Just because of this should I be exempt from running for a trustee position, serving on committees or run for president of our company. In most depts firefighting is 50% of the duties that occur. You sometimes have to think outside the box.

    That has nothing to do with being an actual firefighter, right? Not to turn this into one of those paid v. volunteer rants, but I'm sure it (A.D.A.) is more prevalent in paid departments since the buildings are owned by government entities instead of fire districts.

    Unless things have changed in 10 or so years, College Park, MD has Braille on their signage (including their sleeping quarters)...I've never met a blind firefighter...
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
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  12. #12
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED View Post
    Sounds like they are applying the common sense approach and using UFAS standards which essentially allow for able-bodied use areas not to be ADA accessible. If you have restrooms available to the public..then whatever is in those restrooms needs to be ADA, same for the access of these areas.

    However if you have Dept regulations that stipulate that the public isn't allowed out of a certain area then under the UFAS abled-bodied exception the rest of quarters need not have brail, hand rails, those showers that let water all over the floor.(Imagine living in an appartment beneath someone using a handicapped shower, water leaks all the time!)
    Fred,

    That about sums it up except for the brail. For some reason all areas of the engine house have been designated by signs in both plain text and brail. I can only assume that perhaps it is because a blind person would know what area of the engine house they were in without the sign and perhaps some of the bumps also designate the area as non-public??

    I jokingly asked one of the inspectors who was there checking the signs when they were going to come back and also label everything in Spanish and he gave me that "OH SH1T" look, like they hadn't thought of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by neversaydie69
    Just to throw my two cents in. I have 24 years in my dept. I recently under went spinal surgery for removal of hardware from a previous accident. I woke up paralyzed from the waist down. Since then Iíve regained most function except 50% use of my right leg. Just because of this should I be exempt from running for a trustee position, serving on committees or run for president of our company. In most depts firefighting is 50% of the duties that occur. You sometimes have to think outside the box.
    No, and I am sorry for your situation, BUT regardless of your assertion, you need to be able to walk and function at nearly 100%, 100 % of the time whether you are fighting fire or not. A fact that I am sure that you acknowledge as you are offering to run for office/secretarial duties. Although I sympathize with your present medical condition, you have to know that installing wheel chair lifts to get you in the apparatus is a dumb idea. Similarly, making the entire station ADA compliant it not much smarter. Hopefully everything comes back to you and you will be back on the rig in no time.
    Last edited by MemphisE34a; 11-27-2007 at 04:45 PM.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by e46rick View Post
    In recent years we have had to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when renovating our fire stations. Until now, this has meant providing at least one restroom that was ADA compliant for public use.

    Now, on the verge of starting renovations for three more stations, we have been informed by our Building Department that our kitchens must also be in full ADA compliance (low countertops and small shallow sink).


    This is simply so the guys in the Engine can cook and not **** on the floor cause they cant reach the bowl! DUH!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Fred,

    That about sums it up except for the brail. For some reason all areas of the engine house have been designated by signs in both plain text and brail. I can only assume that perhaps it is because a blind person would know what area of the engine house they were in without the sign and perhaps some of the bumps also designate the area as non-public??

    I jokingly asked one of the inspectors who was there checking the signs when they were going to come back and also label everything in Spanish and he gave me that "OH SH1T" look, like they hadn't thought of that.
    And Chinese in Chinatown, Polish in Greenpoint, German in Yorkville, Ebonics in the Ghetto and Hebrew in Williamsburg...I can see it all now clearly!


    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyirons2 View Post
    This is simply so the guys in the Engine can cook and not **** on the floor cause they cant reach the bowl! DUH!
    Had to take a shot at the vertically challenged...didn't you?

    (for the record I'm an above average height Engineman. If I can't reach the urinal...I just use the nearest set of boots on the Truck side! )

    FTM-PTB

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    FFFRED haha good stuff.

    The house I am at is two floors with no elevator? Sounds like a waste of money to me. We do have steps into the apparatus bay from the interior hallways and on a tour we had to lift a girl in a wheel chair down into the bay because there wasn't a ramp. I told her to just get some speed and she would be just fine

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    We need an elevator so we can start using that TV room on the 3rd floor!

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    Default just being prosctive.

    When the low counter gives you back problems then the building will be ready for you.

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    Regards braille in unlikely places, in Canada, we have alot of drive through ATMs, all the keypads are braille enabled. I realise that anyone driving in some of our cities up here would think that half our drivers are blind, but visual acuity is necessary for a drivers license. I think its just that manufacturer makes all ATMs braille enabled.



    Quote Originally Posted by DianeC View Post
    That has nothing to do with being an actual firefighter, right? Not to turn this into one of those paid v. volunteer rants, but I'm sure it (A.D.A.) is more prevalent in paid departments since the buildings are owned by government entities instead of fire districts.

    Unless things have changed in 10 or so years, College Park, MD has Braille on their signage (including their sleeping quarters)...I've never met a blind firefighter...

  20. #20
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    We built or renovated three stations in the last 7 years, all three have ADA bathrooms, including the bathrooms off the bunk rooms, none of our three stations have ADA compliant kitchen's.

    The newset issue of Fire Chief Magazine has their annual awards for Fire Station design, if you look at the pictures most appear to have a traditional, non-ADA compliant kitchen.

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