For the ninth consecutive year, BRW Principals Gary DeVries and Ray Holliday were thrilled to present at the Texas Fire Chiefs Academy in Georgetown last Wednesday.
Not only is The Academy a comprehensive training opportunity for current and aspiring fire chiefs, it is also a continuing education program that fire departments throughout the state of Texas require as a credential for all new chiefs.
Gary and Ray touched on a variety of topics, but one topic in particular: the process of building a fire station – from feasibility studies to station designs that maximize safety for all staff members.
Firefighters are looked at as community members that help save lives – BRW wants to emphasize that each station design should also have each firefighter’s safety in mind. “The building doesn’t keep the firefighters safe,” says Ray Holliday, AIA. “Implementing design concepts that allow the firefighters to eliminate the contaminants from their bodies and equipment when they return from a call is vital to the well-being of each staff member.”
Research has shown that firefighters are statistically more likely than the average American to develop cancer. Though many of the best prevention methods are procedural, operational, and policy changes that each department and firefighter must make, there are two main areas that architects can assist with to ensure a healthier environment.
NFPA 1500:9.1.6 – “The fire department shall prevent exposure to fire fighters and contamination of living and sleeping areas to exhaust emissions”
Each station can be designed to have a pressurized air-lock between the apparatus and living side of the station. Each door into the air-lock can be equipped with an automatic closure to make sure each door fully closes and further helps to prevent any contaminated air from entering the actual station itself.
Contaminates from Fighting A Fire:
Architecturally, our station designs can assist with minimizing contaminates in the living quarters of each station by providing key support spaces immediately adjacent to the bay. For example, a dedicated turn out gear room immediately adjacent to the bay would significantly decrease health risks for our local heroes.
“It is just as important to keep your safety in mind as it is everyone’s else’s” emphasized Gary DeVries, AIA.
BRW looks forward to sharing our insight with new and seasoned Fire Chiefs. We look forward to another successful Academy next year!