What a Pre-Engineered Building Can Mean for Your Station

Speed of construction, cost-savings, long-term durability and ample space to house and maneuver large equipment – these are just a few of the advantages that a pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) can bring to your fire station construction project. 


The flexibility of pre-engineered metal construction provides the freedom to design your station to suit your department’s unique needs.

What is PEMB Construction?

With PEMBs, all building components are manufactured offsite in a controlled environment and then shipped to the building site to be erected. The cohesive metal building system consists of rigid frames, cold-formed steel secondary structural members, building bracing members and typically metal panels on the roof and exterior walls.

Using a detailed structural design process, your construction contractor will order the pre-engineered building materials from a leading metal building supplier. After fabrication, the supplier will provide final erection drawings and a bill of materials, including all pieces and parts that will ship. The scope of supply encompasses the columns and beams down to the nuts and the bolts used in the onsite construction of the fire station.

Advantages of PEMBs

  • More interior space. PEMBs have clearspan (column-free) interiors that provide for ample clearance, making them an excellent option for fire stations. By avoiding the use of columns, PEMBs offer maximum utilization of interior space.
  • Speed of construction. Thanks to the factory fabrication process, PEMBs result in shorter construction times compared to conventional steel systems where builders must do significantly more field work. The pre-engineered components fit together precisely, with little to no field cutting or welding, thus saving time on the job site.
  • Minimal operational interruption. Faster speed of construction for PEMBs allows for quicker building occupancy and results in minimal facility downtime due to a prolonged construction process. Furthermore, if your project involves a renovation or expansion, keeping your fire station in operation during construction is critical. With a PEMB, the time needed onsite is shortened, thereby minimizing disruption to the fire station’s day-to-day operations. 
  • Cost-savings. Compared to traditional construction, pre-engineered metal buildings deliver numerous cost efficiencies. The detailed fabrication work is performed offsite in a factory-controlled environment, resulting in less material waste on the job site. With strategically designed and detailed structural members, steel is used only where needed, so you don’t pay for unused materials.
  • Steel building construction. Steel, in general, has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Steel erection is not impacted by cold as concrete is, and steel is much more fire-tolerant than many materials used in buildings. It comes with no risk of mold or rot, and as long as it is properly protected, steel won’t rust.
  • Sustainability. As the most recycled material in North America, steel is highly sustainable. Melting scrap steel consumes 80 percent less electricity than making steel from scratch, and steel can be recycled without affecting the quality of the renewed material. PEMBs are commonly made from 100 percent recycled steel, resulting in a low carbon footprint. Furthermore, offsite fabrication results in lower emissions from construction equipment and less scrap and unused material when the building is complete.
  • Future expansion. PEMBs allow for easy expansion as your department grows. Future expansion plans can be part of the original drawings or addressed later. Regardless of the timing, the old and new buildings will appear seamless.

Metal Building Design
and Aesthetics

It’s a common misperception that PEMBs require compromising on architectural design. Today’s pre-engineered buildings can be finished with brick, glass, stucco, precast concrete and other materials to achieve any look. Many fire stations across the Carolinas have been constructed using PEMBs, and you would never guess them to be pre-engineered.

A Deeper Dive into PEMBs

PEMBs are growing in popularity and, compared to the traditional building process, are especially advantageous for fire station projects. Offering faster time to completion, affordability and sustainability, PEMBs have become a preferred method of building.

To learn more about pre-engineered metal buildings and to explore options for your station, talk to a construction company or design-build firm with a long track record working in the metal building industry. An expert can tell you more about the advantages and walk you through the various steel framed building solutions that are well-suited for fire stations.

Andy Speck, PE, is a Project Developer at Bobbitt Design Build. He has worked in the metal building industry for more than 20 years.

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