Fire stations of the world: Cedar Rapids Fire Department’s Central Fire Station, Iowa, US
The Cedar Rapids Fire Department’s Central Fire Station in Iowa, US, was designed with the historic character and feel of the old Central Fire Station at 427 First Avenue that most locals remember as the Science Station and is now the Metro Economic Alliance building. The fire department wanted the building to be distinctive as over 30 000 people travel First Avenue daily and it is a gateway to those entering the city off of the interstate. It is important to note, though, that the new 67 140 square foot fire station has leading edge technology, training facilities and energy-efficient features. Further, this was the first Central Fire Station in the United States to achieve Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification, the top level for energy efficient buildings. It includes geothermal heating and air conditioning that have reduced operating costs, the system paid for itself within 18 months. The $20 million building was funded with a Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Disaster Grant for $15 million and an I-JOBS Grant for $5 million.
The city’s emergency operations centre (EOC) is located in the Central Fire Station. The room also serves as central command in the case of a citywide emergency. Staff from different city departments can orchestrate the city’s emergency response from this room. There are numerous electrical and data ports so that the room could have several break out areas. Plus, there is a kitchen just off the centre of the room as the EOC will likely need to be staffed continuously day and night in some circumstances. When not used as the EOC, the fire department hosts seminars and conferences in this room.
Because this is an emergency centre, the fire station can function 100 percent off-the-grid within an hour. There are backup generators for electrical power, the few gas appliances have electrical receptacles behind them so an electrical stove or water heater could be plugged in and if city water disruption occurred, the geothermal well water could be used. Telecommunications are routed in two pathways to avoid a break in service.
The Central Fire Station has two distinct response functions. The engine company responds to emergency calls in the immediate area in and around downtown Cedar Rapids. The truck company and rescue unit, along with the battalion chiefs, need to respond to the entire city. This is why this central location with ready access to First Avenue and Interstate 380 was so important. There are specialty response vehicles and equipment that need to respond to a water or ice rescue or hazardous materials situation anywhere in the city, ideally within eight minutes.
On 13 June 2008, flood waters crested in Cedar Rapids at 31,12 feet, 19,12 feet above flood stage, inundating the original Central Fire Station with 11 feet of water. The building was declared a total loss. The new 67 140 square foot Central Fire Station was constructed with two-storeys above grade and one below. It has eight apparatus bays, seven of which are drive-through. The first floor is occupied by the fire fighters and contains 17 dorm rooms, weight and cardio rooms, kitchen and dining room, day room and library. The administration occupies the second floor with offices, conference rooms and an emergency operations centre. The basement houses parking for the staff vehicles, mechanical and storage spaces. A wing on the end of the apparatus bay contains training, storage and support spaces for the fire fighters.
Glen-Gery brick was selected as the primary cladding material in an effort to pay homage to the original Central Fire Station, a masonry structure that served for nearly 70 years, from 1917-1985 and later as the city’s Science Station until the 2008 flood. Selecting brick from the Glen-Gery Marseilles Plant meant not only was the product selected going to be beautiful but it was also mined and fired within the LEED Certification requirements, which contributed to this building receiving LEED Platinum Certification. The expansive deep red brick building gives the city a landmark at a busy city block on the main avenue.
The fire department stated these requirements for the design of the new fire station: “Built of durable and maintainable materials, achieve LEED Platinum Certification and act as a reminder of the proud history of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.” And it did just that! The building achieved LEED Platinum Certification and at the time of writing it is the largest fire station in the United States to achieve LEED Platinum Certification.
The Cedar Rapids Fire Department celebrated a milestone in June 2019. It celebrated its 150th anniversary by holding an open house at their Central Fire Station. The department started off as volunteers back in 1869. It became a fully career fire department 25 years later. “Our primary mission is to hopefully prevent injuries, prevent fires, through our community risk reduction initiative and when that doesn't happen, obviously we're here to respond to help,” said Fire Chief Greg Smith. “But it's just important to keep education focused and community risk reduction focused on a daily basis."
Source: Cedar Rapids Local Government, KCRG News and Glen-Gery