Fire stations of the world: US’ Madison, Wisconsin, Fire Station 13: a ‘green’ station that pays for itself
Madison, Wisconsin in the US is committed to reducing energy use and emissions in city facilities. One of the city's most recent success stories is the Madison Fire Department's Station 13. Station 13 opened its doors at 6350 Town Centre Drive in 2014, filling a significant gap in emergency response to the city's far-east side. The station boasts a number of ‘green’ features, including a patio garden and houses special equipment ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. After several years of planning, drawings and staffing and response planning, Fire Station 13 opened for service on 2 June 2014 at 07h00 hours. “Fire Station 13 is certainly the pride of our station fleet”, said its statement. Built to be very modern and efficient, it employs many state-of-the-art systems to maximise its effectiveness. It utilises solar power, geothermal heating and cooling systems and a site layout that maximises passive lighting. The station is incredibly cost-effective to operate; I will have more details about that in an upcoming blog post. The station is staffed with four fire fighter/EMTs who will cover that side of town 24/7. As we look to add a paramedic level response in the future to the eastside, new Fire Station 13 will play a potential key role in ambulance location.
Station 13 is home to Engine 13, a 2013 Pierce Quantum Engine with a 1 500 gallons-per-minute fire pump and 500-gallon water tank along with ground ladders, fire hose and tools. In addition, Engine 13 carries emergency medical equipment including a defibrillator, oxygen and immobilisation gear.
Madison, the capital city of Wisconsin, lies west of Milwaukee and has an estimated population of 259 680, which makes it the second-largest city in Wisconsin by population, after Milwaukee and the 82nd-largest in the United States. Madison has fourteen fire stations serving the city. Each day (24-hour shift), there are a total of 86 on-duty personnel who make up the fire suppression companies, rescues and special teams of the fire department. All on-duty personnel are under the supervision of one Officer in Charge (OIC). The OIC is on duty for 24-hour periods and is responsible for directing all operations and emergencies. OICs are readily identifiable at fire scenes, as they are positioned inside the command vehicle with the chief's aide. At all emergency incidents, department procedure calls for a command post to be set up at the scene. The command post is responsible for the overall direction of emergency activities. The Madison Fire Department has replaced its firefighting foam with foams that have shown to be PFAS-free, becoming the first major city in the state to make the change.
“Madison believes in being a leader in progressive building design and sustainability and sets a positive example for all projects in the City of Madison,” said Asst Chief Clay Christenson. “The city has a goal of attaining a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating or equivalent for all city projects.” The site planning for the new Station 13 was part of a feasibility study that took into account many of the sustainable site-planning strategies outlined in the LEED guidelines.
The parcel was sized to support the building footprint, circulation around the site and some area for proper storm water management. A detailed survey indicated access to utilities and storm water management capacity, plus site characteristics that could affect building design and construction. The plumbing, fire-protection and landscape-irrigation systems all align with LEED water conservation targets. Water usage should be reduced by at least 30 percent.
The station's water conservation measures include landscape design with native, drought tolerant plants (no irrigation system was installed); toilets with dual-flush capabilities; showers with low-flow showerheads (1,75 gpm); active solar hot water system for domestic use in conjunction with high-efficiency natural gas water heaters and connection to the HVAC geothermal system to further supplement domestic hot water.
The building's mechanical system is a geothermal system with vertical borefield. The system also includes a variable air volume air handler with split system variable-speed geothermal heat pump and nine cooling-only variable air volume shutoff boxes.
The geothermal system generates heat for hot water, distributed outside air preconditioned with fixed-plate enthalpic energy recovery and has an integral geothermal heat pump for heating and dehumidification.
The apparatus bay makeup air and heating is preconditioned with a fixed-plate enthalpic energy recovery system with supplemental hot water heating coil. There is hot water radiant flooring for the apparatus bay, sleeping and living quarters, and command centre.
The overhead supply ductwork uses the plenum ceiling as a return; the entire system is operated by direct digital controls with a graphical type operator work station and web-accessed capability.
In addition to the inherent on-site renewable energy embodied in the geothermal heat exchange mechanical system, Fire Station 13 has an impressive array of photovoltaic panels on the roof. These active solar electric panels are expected to satisfy nearly 20 percent of the station's electric demand.
Station 13 is deliberately laid out to use the daylight coming in through the windows. Interior lighting is designed to use approximately 20 percent less energy than that allowed by the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 energy code.
The station's interior lighting uses LED lights, as well as high-efficiency fluorescent (T8 and T5) overhead lighting with electronic ballasts. Daylight delivery and automatic daylight controls are also part of the design. Site lighting includes pole-mounted LED fixtures, as well as wall-mounted security LED lighting.
The combined result of all these energy-saving strategies is an overall performance rating that exceeds comparable fire station buildings by nearly 70 percent. The baseline energy use intensity for a building of this type is 146 kBTUs per square foot per year; Madison Station 13 is currently testing at 44 kBTU per square foot per year.
The funding for the staff was made possible through a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant acquired by the City through the Federal Government. The SAFER grant allows for the Department's current needs to be met in communities, while picking up the operating bill over time. Most of the expansion in operations the fire department has accomplished over the last 10 years has been made possible through the SAFER grant and we are incredibly grateful to have been able to avail ourselves of this resource.
The Department was very excited and proud to be providing a high level of EMS and fire service to the citizens on the far east side of the city. As Madison continues to expand into the surrounding countryside, the Madison Fire Department has faced challenges on how to meet the demand for calls for service in a timely fashion. “As we have seen in the past, a new fire station sometimes looks lonely in a field at first but then one day it is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life,” said their statement.
Sources: City of Madison Fire Department