My New Fire Station

One of the first steps to take in the construction of a fire station facility is to establish your budget. The cost of building a new station can vary depending on many factors, including the type of roof (screw down or standing seam) and the type of overhead doors (sectional, bi-folding). The expenses of site work and meeting code requirements are often overlooked by owners. Early code reviews will aid in site planning and estimating.


Knowing your budget limitations and understanding the factors that drive costs will help you select the type of station that best fits your needs and budget.

Determine Your Budget

Knowing your budget limitations and understanding the factors that drive costs will help you select the type of station that best fits your needs and budget.

Choose the Site

Your engineering consultant can assist you in choosing the best location for the new station while considering future needs. Larger stations, or a station in close proximity to other buildings, may require rated firewalls or code-driven fire suppression systems, both of which can be costly. You may encounter special requirements for stormwater runoff on the property. Consider how far utility access is from the planned station. Is the soil stable enough to support the structure? Will soils need to be imported or exported? Can exported soils be dumped elsewhere on the property to save transport costs? Will you incur expenses for demolition of an existing building, and would that work require abatement (lead paint or asbestos) before demolition?

All these aspects significantly impact the project’s budget and must be considered upfront as the location is being selected.

Choose the Proper Station Size

The size and dimensions of your fire station are the next considerations. Efficient utilization of available square footage is critical in fire station construction.

Consider not only the fire trucks that will be housed but also the space needed for moving the trucks around the site. Your maintenance crew will need adequate workspace and workflow when repairs are required. During the design phase, your architect will help create a plan for load-bearing support columns to be placed appropriately to ensure maximum open space.

The size and specific use of the station are other critical factors that drive fire suppression and rated wall requirements. Here again, have your architect and civil engineer conduct early code reviews to identify any fire-related code requirements.

Prepare for Heavy Loads and High Traffic

Fire stations will encounter ultra-heavy loads, so it is important to design and build footings and choose flooring that will hold up to the stress.

With the massive pressure fire trucks put on the foundation and floors, fire stations require concrete foundations. A concrete slab foundation composed of reinforced concrete — which is typically inexpensive and can be built quickly — is commonly used for stations. Another possible approach is a pier foundation made of concrete piers or beams set deep into the ground that will bear the weight of the fire trucks.

The type of flooring used is also important. Station facilities require a hard-aggregate concrete that can bear the pressure and stress of heavy weight. The finish coating needs to be thick, durable and chemical-resistant. Avoid a poly coat or shiny finish in favor of an epoxy coating with “grip” to provide traction for easily moving engines in and out. Your design-build company will recommend materials that protect your station against aggressive wear and extend its life expectancy.

Determine Station Access

During the design phase of your project, your architect will help you define access into and out of the station. For a substation, the entry and exit points may be obvious. For multi-fire truck stations, however, the efficient movement of fire trucks in and out of the facility can be more challenging. To ensure the design of the station is as open as possible, carefully determine the required size of the overhead doors. You will position the station based on its entry and exit points rather than merely adding a door to the station. Door design should maximize accessibility.

Plan for Electrical Requirements

When designing a fire station, map out your electrical needs and plan your wiring strategy. Easy access to multiple power outlets is essential for servicing and maintaining the trucks, but wires can often block traffic flow if not properly placed. Outlet banks placed throughout the building can be connected to columns or permanent scaffolding to make them accessible yet out of the way.

Choose Optimal Lighting

Lighting for your facility is an easy aspect to overlook when designing a fire station, but the vast open space of a fire truck bay requires a large amount of light. A good rule of thumb when designing a station is to create a lighting plan, then double what you think you need. Skylights can help make use of natural light. Also, be aware of how these lights will be accessed when bulbs need to be replaced.

Find an Experienced Fire Station Design-Build Company

Not all architects and construction companies have the knowledge to design and build a fire station facility. Fire station construction is a complex job, and you need a team that is experienced in station design and metal building construction for heavy-duty industrial applications. A skilled design-build team will be able to walk you through all the requirements, code reviews and permitting, making the process easier for you.

Chris Goins is a Project Developer with Bobbitt Design Build, the Carolinas’ largest and most experienced integrated design-builder. Bobbitt has delivered more than 35 fire stations throughout the Southeast using our proven design-build process.

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