In Quarters: Bethel Park, PA, Volunteer Fire Company

June 25, 2019
Bethel Park Fire Company's new station includes an optimized response configuration for an all-volunteer department and contaminant mitigation systems.

This facility was a Volunteer/Combination Notable selection in Firehouse's 2018 Station Design Awards. Find the full list of winners here.

Donations had dried up. Accounts were nearly empty. Desperate to build a new facility and tapped-out from maintaining an aging and problematic station, Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company was looking for innovative ways to replace their facility. The Municipality of Bethel Park stepped up to the plate with an enlightened idea that was pioneering and original. The Fire Company and Municipality would join forces, utilizing progressive thinking and cooperation that exemplifies the very best of community commitment.

The Municipality proposed to amend its Municipal Charter by adding a mill levy whose sole purpose would be for the ownership, repair, construction and lifetime maintenance of the three existing fire stations. The firefighters would have the responsibility to respond, train, recruit and buy equipment. By amending their charter, the future of the fire department could never be held hostage to annual budgets or political whims. A charter amendment, akin to a constitutional amendment, required a community vote, which was overwhelming in favor of the idea.

A pivotal requirement of the arrangement was that a new state-of-the-art facility be designed and constructed utilizing an architect specializing in fire stations. Additionally, the architect had to have extensive expertise and experience in community support campaigns.

The 75-year lifespan structure includes advanced active training regimens, optimized response configuration for an all-volunteer department, contaminant mitigation systems, sustainable technologies and materials, new drive-through capability on a challenging, tight, sloping site, space for all identified needs now and into the foreseeable future, all with the idea of operational priority and responder health and safety as the critical elements. The project was divided into four separate phases: abatement, building demolition, site utilities and new construction.

Recruitment is up, there’s enough money to help buy equipment, and all parties are happy after two years running of a win-win-win arrangement.

Architect/Firm Name: Pacheco Ross Architects, P.C.

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