2015 Station Design Awards

Oct. 22, 2015
Firehouse is pleased to offer the second annual showcase of fire and emergency services facilities from across North America. Forty fire stations were submitted by 26 architecture firms with experience in designing public safety facilities.

Welcome to the 2015 Station Design Awards

Firehouse is pleased to offer the second annual showcase of fire and emergency services facilities from across North America. Forty fire stations were submitted by 26 architecture firms with experience in designing public safety facilities. Download a PDF of the 2015 winners here.

The goal of the Station Design Awards is to identify and educate with examples of new public safety facilities designed and constructed to meet the needs and responsibilities of an agency, the safety of personnel and the community that it serves. In fact, each facility in this issue is a “winner” for its department, personnel and community, offering improvements over previous stations.

Each portfolio submitted was checked for anonymity before being forwarded to the judges. Prior to the actual judging, we discussed the ever-changing role and challenges of today’s fire department. While fire stations are designed to provide for administration, training, storage and shelter for department personnel, there are variations by department, community and regional hazards.

Judges were asked to review the facilities by category and, based on their experience, select their top three facilities in each of the five categories as examples of best practices in site location, design, operations, needs accommodations, safety for personnel and any other unique insights based on their experiences.

Most notably, this is the first year that every one of the 40 fire stations and facilities submitted to the Station Design Awards stated fire sprinklers were installed. Having fire sprinklers in fire stations is a significant step forward in setting an example of fire prevention in a community—walk the walk, and talk the talk.

Other notable trends discussed by the judges:

  • Every fire station submitted had training options designed into the facility. Over the past 14 years, on-site training has become a standard for fire stations. Whether budget reductions have restricted travel for training or the increasing responsibilities, on-site training is readily available.
  • Designated physical fitness rooms have increased in size to allow fitness equipment and additional floor space for core-body workouts. One wall of glass windows is not considered a decorative luxury, as it is a safety feature in the event of an accident or illness while exercising.
  • The ratio of bunks to bathrooms was good. Judges agreed one bathroom to every two or three personnel. While there was an increase in gender-neutral bathrooms in stations, separate bathrooms/showers for women also increased.
  • In spite of opposing arguments these facilities are fire stations, the judges agreed that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is required according to federal law and applicable to fire stations. This means elevators to basement or second floors and available access to all areas of a facility (in the event of tours, meetings or for light shift duty).
  • While ADA accessibility is important, security and separation to department personnel’s living areas is a priority for the protection of department personnel. Restricted parking areas for personnel were visible on many site plans.
  • This year’s floor plans showed significant attention to how turnout gear was stored. Separate rooms off the apparatus bay, many with two doors and separate ventilation systems, were prevalent in most stations.
  • Much discussion ensued on sleeping areas. Many felt the trend toward individual sleeping rooms (with doors) had decreased and dorm-style or multiple beds in a room had increased. One judge reported three beds in each room frequently meant each firefighter has the same bed per shift.
  • While sleeping rooms are not as important in a volunteer department, it is wise to seriously consider future growth and changes. Buildings today built for 50 to 75 years must consider transitions to career and diverse personnel.
  • Judges praised fire stations designed to fit the surrounding neighborhood as evident from exterior photos. “The fire station looks like it belongs,” commented one judge.
  • Kitchens offered a wide range of ideas and options and elicited the lament from a judge/fire chief with a newer station, “Any station with eight or more people, put in two dishwashers.” He currently is replacing the single dishwashers every year.
  • Again this year, we saw dedicated EMS evaluation rooms off the lobby entrance for walk-up visitors requiring EMS attention. With expansion of EMS services and mobile-integrated healthcare options, this is a trend that will increase.
  • Walk-off mats in living quarter entry doors were placed to eliminate debris carried over. Separating contaminated or “dirty” zones of a fire station from the living areas is critical to current and future health of personnel.
  • Several departments acknowledged respect for older sites and landscapes.
  • Lastly, in consideration of future growth, some stations were designed so future retail developments would not interfere with privacy and noise of living areas in stations.

The collection of 2015 Station Design Award entries in this issue are suggestions for you to consider. Prices vary greatly due to location, construction costs and response requirements. As noted, every new station and facility is a winner and, hopefully, a resource for your next building project.

— Janet Wilmoth, Special Projects Director

Download a PDF of the winners here.

Meet the Judges

Janet Wilmoth: Janet Wilmoth grew up in a family of firefighters in a suburb of Chicago. Wilmoth, owner of Wilmoth Associates, worked with Fire Chief magazine for 27 years until it closed in 2013. She is currently a Project Director for Firehouse/SouthComm. Wilmoth currently serves on the board of directors for the Fire Emergency Manufacturers & Services Association.

Fire Chief Jeffery Bacidore: Chief Bacidore is a 36-year veteran of the fire service, including over three decades with the Elmhurst (IL) Fire Department, where he’s served 13 of those years as a chief officer. He earned his bachelor’s degree in fire science management from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and is a certified Chief Fire Officer with the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office.

Deputy Chief John Bergeron: Deputy Chief Bergeron is the operations chief for Harlem-Roscoe (IL) Fire Department. He joined the department as a cadet in 1981 and rose through the ranks, ultimately becoming deputy chief in 2009. Bergeron is state-certified as an Advanced Technician Firefighter, Instructor II, Fire Officer II as well as in Hazardous Materials Operations, Vehicle and Machinery Operations, and Trench Operations.

Johnny Fong: Fong has participated in many design awards program over the past 10-plus years. He is a fire equipment operator/engineer with the Reno (NV) Fire Department and is the owner and principal of FireHouse Designs. Fong has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California-Berkeley and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. 

Andy Jasek: Jasek, the fire service director for FGM Architects, has more than 20 years of experience with fire service facilities. FGM Architects, established in 1945, has completed more than 250 fire stations projects for more than 100 fire service agencies, including many award-winning projects. He attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he received his bachelor’s and masters’ degrees in architecture. Jasek is a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Joseph C. Weithman, AIA, LEED, AP, CDT: Weithman is the president and co-founder of Mull & Weithman Architects in Columbus, OH. He has over 22 years of experience as an architect with public and civic building projects. His focus is on design and delivering high-quality, client-centered outcomes.

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