Fire Station Construction Should Be a Team Sport

Like fighting a fire, to deliver a successful construction project takes the work of many people to achieve your goal. I’m not a fireman and have never been on a fire call, but I assume that fighting a fire is better with a team, especially a team that has trained and worked on many calls together. Construction operates the same way, and it is better when approached as a team sport.


Take basketball for example. Every time a team wins a championship, the success is always attributed to the team – not an individual. They talk about the hard work the collective team puts into practice and working together as a unit. They won the championship as a result of teamwork, and no one man could have won the game for them. Michael Jordan once said: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” This quote can be applied to the construction industry as well.

There are many talented architects, engineers and general contractors out there that can help you build a new fire station. For many years fire departments have gone through the traditional construction delivery method of design-bid-build. This process begins when a fire station selects and hires an architect and engineer who will design plans for the new facility. Once the plan is completed, the information will be sent to general contractors for bidding and the fire station will select the company with the lowest price. The architecture, engineering or general contracting firm may have never collaborated with each other on a project together in the past. That’s like taking a bunch of fireman from different departments and asking them to work together on a call. Sure, the job will most likely get done, but would the call go more smoothly if they had trained together and served on other calls as a team? There is a reason that each department trains together. What if there is a better way with fewer complications and less stress?

Imagine if there was a construction delivery method that allowed you to select your design and construction team based on experience working together. Luckily, there is, and it’s called design-build.

Design-build is the process by which the architect, engineers and general contractor team up early in the design process. These team members are chosen at the beginning of the project and are selected based on qualifications and experience. Of course, there are many other factors involved when selecting your team, such as construction costs and timeline, but having a unified front that has worked together will save you time and money.

The Design Build Institute of America describes design-build as a method of project delivery in which one entity – the design-build team – works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion – thereby re-integrating the roles of designer and constructor.

Streamlining project delivery through a single contract between the owner and the design-build team transforms the relationship between designers and builders into an alliance, which fosters collaboration and teamwork. United from the outset of every project, an integrated team readily works to successfully complete a project faster, more cost effectively and with fewer change orders.

Over the past 15 years, use of design-build has greatly accelerated in the United States, making this delivery method one of the most significant trends in design and construction today. Choosing a design-build team with experience working together is the first step.

If my house were on fire, I’d want the most experienced team of firefighters to come and extinguish it. You should want the same thing for your new fire station. A design-build team that has trained and worked together on an extensive portfolio of fire station projects will be your best partner.

Chris Goins is a project developer at Bobbitt Design Build who specializes in fire station design and construction.

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