Fire stations are important buildings, serving as the headquarters for local or regional fire brigades. Fire stations also store the department's trucks and other equipment. There are several key requirements that need to be considered in designing a new fire station.
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One of the first requirements for a fire station design is a good location. Besides a site where land is available and affordable, a fire station must be centrally located to its area of operation, giving firefighters a chance to respond to fires that are their responsibility in a reasonable amount of time. The station must also be positioned on a road that can accommodate large fire trucks and does not have traffic patterns that are likely to delay firefighters.
Another important requirement of any design is the budget. Fire stations may be built with money from a variety of sources, including funds raised by the fire brigade, a bond measure approved by voters or state and federal grants. Since all of these sources provide a fixed amount of money, the fire station needs to be built on a level that is both affordable in the near term and sustainable in the long term, since it will require regular maintenance for as long as it is in operation.
The layout of a fire station is very different from other public buildings. This is because the fire station serves a series of specific purposes.
The centre of most fire stations is the apparatus bay, where firefighters store their trucks and other equipment. Adjacent to the apparatus bay may be a smaller vehicle maintenance bay. The apparatus needs to be easily accessible from the living space where firefighters spend their time and are likely to be located at the time a call comes in. Some fire stations contain a dormitory for overnight shifts, while others may only contain a day room or recreation room. Other spaces that need to be included in the design are an administration area for offices and telephones as well as a lobby for visitors and citizens to come to with fire station business.
Some stations may also include an outdoor area for recreation or holding training exercises. Other fire brigades own property at another location for more intensive and dangerous training away from the population centre where the station is located.
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