Designing Fire Stations Responsibly

Jun 26, 2023 | news

When we think about fire station design, we lead with responsibility. To us, a responsibly designed fire station puts first responder health and safety at the forefront. It seeks to impact the environment minimally, positively respond to the community’s character, and adhere to budget goals.  

From the beginning, the Town of Westmoreland, New Hampshire, committed to a new fire station that aligns with modern firefighting standards and achieves set sustainability goals, including reduced operating costs and a lighter environmental impact. A community of approximately 1,700 residents with a volunteer fire department of 25 active members, their existing 60-year-old facility is too small, outdated, and inadequate to support current emergency response requirements.  

Working with the town and its interested parties, we designed a new station and located it on the existing site in approximately the same location as the existing station. The sloping apparatus bay roof of the 6,500 SF facility is oriented for maximum exposure for future photo voltaic solar panels (PV), optimizing their performance for greater return on investment.  

Achieving high performance in the building is made easier because the building is largely unoccupied except for occasional department meetings. A heater in the apparatus bays keeps the temperature to 55 degrees in winter, while the administrative areas have high-efficiency heat pumps to provide year-round climate control. The apparatus bays are not air-conditioned but are equipped with exhaust fans to remove excess contaminates and can exhaust warm air when needed.  

The facility is equipped with LED lighting and occupancy sensors for reduced energy consumption when the facility is in use. The building envelope design ensures the building exceeds base Energy Code requirements. It provides maximum efficiency for indoor temperatures while not being excessively over-designed, resulting in unnecessary first costs with little or no return on investment.  

Just beginning construction, the Westmoreland Fire Station aims to be fully operational in early 2024. The new facility provides the volunteer department with ample space for vehicles and equipment, administrative and meeting spaces, and decontamination spaces for processing gear and people when necessary following an event.  

Our firm approaches sustainable design to create buildings that provide longevity of services, with the lowest possible impact, within a budget that makes sense for our clients. The size of the building, the occupancy use, and the budget provide the guiding principles for our approach to each project. And not by coincidence, responsibility is one of our firm’s five values.