FIRE STATION LOCATION AND DESIGN
The functional worth of a fire station is established in the planning stages. In these days of high construction costs the expenditure of public funds must be carefully considered to avoid serious and costly mistakes.
The area to be protected is a determining factor in planning the location, type and size of the station – whether it be residential, urban, suburban, rural, mercantile or industrial; congested, high hazard, open, zoned or unrestricted.
The proximity of schools, hospitals, theatres or other places of public assembly; also the geographical and topographical relationship to other stations if any; existence of permanent traffic obstructions such as rail road tracks must also be taken into account.
Other fundamental considerations are the number and types of apparatus to be quartered and whether or not a chief officer or officers will be headquartered there.
Fire stations should not be located on heavily traveled roads, or one-way streets. The street should be of good width, perhaps a secondary arterial which could provide a clear fire lane across the protection area. There should be a minimum of traffic congestion in the area.
The site should be level, never on a hillside and when possible one or more rear doors provided for the apparatus room for drive-through traffic. If the station is in a residential area it should be on a sufficiently large plot to allow for attractive landscaping. In such locations it is essential to conform the design to the architecture of the locale.
The problem of locating a fire station has probably caused more debate than anything else affecting the fire service. Fire chiefs who encounter the opposition of taxpayers, real estate and other groups in selecting a site for a fire station in a residential area should be able to prove that locating a modern fire station in any residential area does not decrease property values, but tends rather to increase it.
The apparatus room is the heart of every fire station; its location, size, shape, layout and provision for easy, quick access from all areas are factors that establish good functional design. In determining size and layout the planning committee must consider both immediate and future needs of the fire fighters that may occupy the station.