For anyone looking to learn about the current trends of firehouse design and architecture, there are two grand-scale conference opportunities in 2017. Firehouse’s Station Design Conference will be held in Fort Worth, Texas in May (it was in Anaheim, California last year). Not to be upstaged, F.I.E.R.O. is hosting what it calls the ‘premier fire station design conference in the country’. The 2017 Fire Station Design Symposium will be in late September in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Firehouse’s Station Design Conference promotes itself as covering the entire scope of building a brand-new fire station. These details include the complete bidding and construction process, construction site costs, selecting a design team, and incorporating the newest technology and equipment. There are so many considerations that don’t get a ton of thought until they become a problem. The 2017 conference will discuss unique troublesome issues such as zoning complications, dealing with city architectural review boards, planning with tree preservation in mind, height or bulk restrictions or building around natural elements such as wetlands, streams or steep hills. Of course, keeping within your budget is a major topic that will be addressed.
Topics that probably never dawned on the fire house architects of yesteryear are also on the agenda. Making your station ‘green’ and efficient, and also how to create gender-friendly locker/shower rooms and bunkrooms. Time will also be devoted to fire fighter safety, protection and training. Sponsors and exhibitors will of course also grace the facility, along with plenty of time to network and brainstorm.
The F.I.E.R.O. (which stands for Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization) Fire Station Design Symposium has held an annual symposium since 2010. It specifically focuses on not only fire stations and training facilities planning to be built but for those already in existence. This event has a schedule full of speakers, demos and exhibitions but one of the big highlights is the annual Design Awards. The goal of these awards is to showcase public safety buildings that not only serve the community but also advance what the personnel who work there can do. Six judges with fire fighting backgrounds and architectural degrees determine the contest winners.
F.I.E.R.O. is a non-profit fire service agency. All income from the symposium is channeled into the following year’s event. All attendees receive a convenient USB thumbdrive with any digital handouts the presenters share.
Between these two events, 2017 looks to be a year of education, sharing, camaraderie and architectural advances in the fire house and fire training facilities department.
Today’s post is a slight departure from the usual firehouse articles here. The topic: fire trucks. The words ‘fire truck’ usually evoke the image of a red pumper or ladder truck. Certainly these are the two typical options for kids toys. But are fire trucks all red pumper or ladder trucks? No way. Here are a few less heard of fire apparatus that you won’t see in your typical toy aisle.
Unofficially the world’s smallest fire ‘truck’, the Nobleton Fire Department in Ontario has a truck the size of a large golf cart. (In fact, it IS a converted golf cart). A short YouTube video shows it ‘zooming’ down the road with its sirens on but the fire department reports that, while it is a legitimate truck, it’s mainly used for parades and education nowadays.
While you’re on YouTube, check out these next three trucks. First is the Pink Heels Tour. Organized throughout the year, volunteers drive a bright pink fire truck and fire fighters don pink fire gear. Making house calls to people effected by cancer, giving public educational displays, and raising money through donations and product sales this organization sets out to celebrate and uplift the cancer survivors individually rather than focus on a entire cause. Plus, they let people whip out a sharpie and write a message on the side of the pink truck!
‘Stinger’ fire trucks are exactly what the name suggests – they have a sharp stinger that can penetrate the side of an airplane to extinguish an internal fire. Used primarily at airports, the truck has a hose like a regular pumper truck and the stinger attached to a tall, adjustable boom arm. It has a maximum reach of 55 feet and can spray water and foam at the same time. Now why don’t they make kids trucks with a big piercing stinger?
The Chinese have done away with a standard truck completely and employed a battle tank chassis to fight hazardous fires. The armored walls can withstand heat and bio-hazard material and allow the fire fighters to literally roll into a fire and fight it from within. Used mainly for oil plants and chemical factories, the fire tank sprays water and foam retardant and is equipped with an internal sprinkler system to provide temperature relief. The definitely need a toy version of one of these.
You won’t see an Antarctic ARFF truck roll down the street during a Fourth of July Parade. These essential, yet problematic vehicles are on tracks instead of wheels in order to contend with the elements of the South Pole. Battling issues such as freezing fire retardant foam inside the pipes and corroding machine parts make these trucks very high maintenance.
Just like individual fire houses cater to the needs of their community, so do the fire apparatus. There’s endless possibility for uses and modifications.
With pride and dedication to fire departments where one has pledged to serve wholly and to which they would risk their lives, inevitably comparison between facilities ensues. Some stations are proud to be small and efficient. While others have no qualms about building grandiose block-long buildings. Of course factors such as the size, scope, and varying possible contingencies a station’s district might present play into what a particular station needs to look like and what it needs to house. (not to mention the city’s money supply, although some cities can boast that their station was built primarily with donated funds and volunteers staff, but that’s another blog post). So, let’s highlight some of the world’s smallest and largest fire stations (the buildings themselves, not the entire department).
In 2012 the Guinness World Record Academy named the 13′ by 20′ fire station in Goathland, Yorkshire, UK as the world’s smallest. The solo stone garage houses a fire fighting Land Rover outfitted with fire fighting tools. The nine volunteers who run the station include a youth worker, a salesman, and a farmer. The group, aged 20s – 30s, race to their mini-station in just under 4 minutes of an alarm sounding. They eloquently handle the most common emergencies in their district: house fires, car crashes and even infernos on the nearby moors. The land for the tiny station was donated by a local resident, but the building itself only contains a desk and a filing cabinet (aside from supplies and tools of course). With no running water, the volunteers bring their own beverages and have a key for the nearby public toilet. They have to carry water containers and their hoses on the Land Rover, which presents weight problems for the vehicle. The station handles between 25-50 callouts per year. The district they cover is quite large but the human population is low.
There is no official ‘largest’ fire house on record, but it wouldn’t be a long shot to give the title to Fire Station 1 (Feuerwache 1 ) in the district of Eckenheim, Germany. The scope of their coverage includes ten districts which contains the city of Frankfurt, massive motorways, a rail tunnel and rail system, and assistance to the Frankfurt airport. With at least 60 bay doors (the doors appear to be in the front and at the rear of the bays, giving the trucks the option to park inside the inner courtyard area) the building is absolutely mammoth. The station contains ladder trucks, large tank trucks, an aerosol vehicle, three different command vehicles, front loader construction vehicle, and a loader vehicle with a crane. It also looks like the facility is equipped for respiratory and environmental protection training.
The building was erected in 2003 and has a crew of twenty-five fire fighters on duty around the clock. Training areas and inspection zones are also in the facility. With such a large building maybe they have segways to get around?
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