Firehouse Hosts Station Design Conference, Awards

Firehouse has taken the lead in station design education and awards, establishing the first Cygnus sponsored conference and first annual award program.

The prestigious competition has been ongoing for several years until the closing of Fire Chief magazine last year. That’s when Firehouse decided to step in and pick up where it was left, including hiring the magazine’s editor Janet Wilmoth to head up the initiative.

“I am really pleased Firehouse picked up the whole program,” said Wilmoth, noting that Firehouse will also be sponsoring a one-day station design conference in conjunction with Firehouse Expo in Baltimore on July 16. Click here to learn more about the station design conference.

“It’s a huge investment to build a station,” Wilmoth said. “A lot of towns and cities are building public safety facilities with police, fire and ambulance services in them.” She added some communities are incorporating administrative services in the buildings.

Wilmoth said as the demands on volunteer and career firefighters change, and more and more is expected of responders, they need places that can accommodate the equipment, staff and services they are expected to provide.

Even volunteer and paid on call firefighters are beginning to sleep in fire station which change the facility needs, including the need for better cooking areas, Wilmoth said.

The increased number of women in the fire service are putting different requirements for bathroom and showering facilities with in a station.

“A lot of towns are going with gender neutral bathrooms, and in some cases, individual bathrooms,” Wilmoth said, noting that dormitory and cubical style bathroom facilities are becoming popular.

Wilmoth said one of the presentations during the station design conference will be led by Robert Manns, AIA, principal architect with Manns Woodward Studios, called “Response, Sleep, and Health – Improving Quality of Life By Design,” will focus exactly on those topics.

Wilmoth said conference attendees will also learn about site selection and determining the best spot to build a station.

“Donated land is not always a good thing,” Wilmoth said, noting that just because the site is free, it doesn’t mean it’s the best spot for a fire station, not only from a physical construction aspect, but from a response perspective as well.

Wilmoth said she is equally excited about the resurrection of the awards program. She said it represents a unique resource from which fire departments can learn best practices and see real-world applications of station designs that are showcased in print.

Station nominations are generally submitted by architects and builders and there’s a fee that goes along with the nomination, Wilmoth said, noting that’s it perfectly acceptable for chiefs, firefighters and community officials to encourage their architects to submit their individual stations.

Station nominations are due by Aug. 1 and winners and entries will be showcased in the November issue of Firehouse. More information can be found by clicking here.

Wilmoth said the November issue will most likely be a “keeper” as fire chiefs and officials use the photos in the publication to show what they would like to have in their own stations.

Through the one-day conference and the awards program, Wilmoth said a lot of information, ideas and education is exchanged.

She said what attendees learn can be directly applied to the stations they are building, or will be building in the future. Costly mistakes can be avoided and better ideas and designs can be shared.

“I am very pleased to see both the conference and award programs moving forward by Firehouse,” Wilmoth said.

Wilmoth, who will be moderating the one-day conference in Baltimore, is an icon in the fire service. She has been writing about fire chiefs and the fire service for 27 years. She has been steeped in the fire service as her father and brother were both fire chiefs. She is also a member of The Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association (FEMSA).