Five Major Trends Shaping Modern Fire Station Design

Everything about firefighting and emergency response is changing. Growing communities need more trucks and today’s larger trucks need more space.

Unfortunately, many of our aging firehouses are ill-equipped to adequately handle these changes. Here we share key fire station architecture design trends that are positioning emergency responders for the 21st century.

1. Performance-forward fire station design

One can’t responsibly think about fire station design these days without finding every possible way to get emergency responders to the scene as quickly as possible. When building a modern fire station, this translates to single-story design (if site constraints allow), clear paths to apparatus bays, or installing four-fold side-motion doors, which open approximately twice as fast as conventional rolling or sectional-overhead doors.

2. Co-location

Fire department with the police department, city hall with the public library, many communities are saving money when building new facilities by co-locating public service facilities within the same structure or campus. In Kaukauna, Wisconsin, officials decided to build a new campus for fire, police and municipal services rather than rehabilitate their out-of-date structures. In Bennett, Colorado, the town is joining with the Bennett Fire Protection District to build a new 40,000-square-foot joint facility with shared meeting spaces and building systems in order to save costs over two separate buildings.

Co-locations can benefit modern fire station design
Rather than rehabilitate out-of-date structures, officials in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, decided to co-locate their fire, police and municipal services on a new campus.

3. Focus on community

Modern fire departments are recognizing the opportunity to play a larger role in the community. In addition to building context-sensitive structures that fit in with the surrounding environment, having a community focus means creating community-friendly facilities. At the updated fire station in Kersey, Colorado, the department strengthened their connection with the surrounding community by building a community room—with separate entrance—where citizens can host community and other events, essentially becoming Kersey’s town hall.

a modern fire station in Maplewood, MN
Equipped with a cutting-edge training facility, the 16,500-square-foot fire station in Maplewood, Minnesota, was the first in the state designed to follow International Green Construction Code standards.

4. Green fire station design

Vegetative roofs, photovoltaic panels, energy-efficient windows—a generation ago these words were only in the design vocabulary of the most progressive architects. Thankfully, sustainable design trends have spread into the realm of modern fire station design. Green building design directly benefits owners through lower energy bills, lower water usage, and provide safer and healthier environments for occupants.

modern fire station design image
The Kaukauna Fire Department building is co-located on the same campus as police and municipal services.

5. Training facilities

If you want the best emergency response team you need to provide excellent training. Decision makers are recognizing both the need and opportunity to outfit their operations with training facilities. These facilities provide opportunities for the local department, but they can also foster collaboration among neighboring departments who may come in to train as well.

About the Author

Jeff Pedersen

Jeff Pedersen leads the SEH Architectural team in Colorado and Wyoming. He’s a company Principal and a Registered Architect in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming. Jeff works with public clients to design efficient and useable spaces and developers to design multi-use spaces. Contact Jeff

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