Fire stations of the world: Waterford City Fire Station in Ireland
Waterford City Fire Station in Ireland is the new headquarters of Waterford Fire Service. Situated in the province of Munster in Ireland, Waterford Fire Service maintains round the clock emergency cover to protect life and property. The Fire Service covers the administrative areas of Waterford City and County Council. Agreements are in place with Cork County Council, South Tipperary County Council and Kilkenny County Council to provide additional cover within County Waterford, as required. Waterford Fire Service reciprocates by covering the Cork, Kilkenny and South Tipperary County Council areas if the need arises. Waterford Fire Service attends an average of 1 830 incidents per year. These include fires, road traffic collisions, chemical spills and other emergency situations. Waterford City Fire Station built in 2015, is the emergency response centre for fire fighting, river rescue, car crashes, training and public consultation in the region. In an inhospitable environment on the ring road around Waterford City at the junction of Kilbarry Road and Ballybeg Drive in Waterford, it creates its own artificial landscape, a new geography of enclosure and home to 64 fire fighters, organised into four watches.
Waterford, a seaport in southeast Ireland, is the country’s oldest city. It was founded by Vikings in 914 AD and parts of its ancient walled core remain.
The Waterford Fire Service Head Quarters building is three storeys high on eastern and part southern elevation sloping to two storeys high along the northeastern boundary and sloping to single storey high along western boundary and part of the southern boundary. The building encloses a drill yard and training area and is approximately 2 200 square metre gross internal floor area.
The building houses 10 fire appliance bays, watch room, muster bays, training rooms, dormitories, offices, canteen and recreational rooms, lecture theatre, drill tower, external training areas, underground pipe for confined space training. The building encloses staff car parking and Civil defence vehicle spaces with visitor car parking spaces on Ballybeg Drive and Kilbarry Road. A community Garda facility and CCTV monitoring station are provided on Ballybeg Drive.
The project included unique training areas including the drill tower with rising main and opes for rescue, a 9 000 litre tank, underground pipe to be used for confined space training and external training areas.
Shaped around the active service it delivers where function is paramount, the building form is derived from the tracking movements of the fire tenders leaving their appliance bays at speed and returning after fire fighting duties. A strong but simple enclosing form wrapped in zinc is folded around, origami-like, to enclose a large drill yard, itself differentiated into different training zones.
Behind the clear organisational form of the building, the fire station operates like a large family, with tough training designed to foster lasting bonds of mutual support essential for hazardous fire fighting operations. The fire station has been thought of like a large house, with people coming and going at different hours, some sleeping, some wakeful, a series of linked spaces conducive to family life are assembled, facilitating everything from serious and dirty training, to individual study, to communal recreation, to cooking the Sunday roast in the heart of operations, the canteen.
Organised in a sort of spiral, rising from single storey vehicle parking, workshops and dormitories to a first floor of offices, canteen, leisure and study facilities and terminating at a third storey lecture theatre, the zinc roof is angled and cut away to provide a series of sheltered inside-outside spaces overlooking the yard, where the drill tower acts like an urban beacon in a new public space.
Structure: A steel structure was selected, supported on an in situ concrete slab on strip foundations. Intermediate floors were also in situ slabs on steel beams. The wide span appliance bay was achieved using steel trusses to facilitate the appliances driving through from drill yard to outside active duty.
Materials and construction: The main public elevations are composed of significant areas of curtain wall glazing, interspersed with plastered and painted blockwork. To the more private drill yard the main material of the external envelope is zinc sheeting on a timber substrate of plywood sheeting utilising a proprietary spacing material to generate a ventilation layer to the back of the zinc.
Sustainability and energy: From the outset the design team used the “lean, clean and green” approach to the design of Waterford Fire Station:
Lean design: This reduces the building’s requirement for energy to make the building as Lean as possible. The idea is to reduce the buildings requirement for heat, mechanical ventilation, water and power. The building is predominantly naturally ventilated except for the lecture theatre. Insulation levels greatly exceed compliance levels. Heat recovery units have been employed in the changing areas to optimise heat exchange for showers for the 64 fire fighters, organised into four watches, who carry out round-the-clock monitoring of the region.
Clean: At this stage we looked at ways to maximise the use of natural resources on site and maximise the efficiency of equipment and technologies proposed for the site.
Green: Concrete with fly ash aggregate (Ecocem) has been utilised throughout all concrete structures. Space has been allocated for future renewables, rainwater harvesting and a wood pellet boiler.
Sources: Waterford Fire Service, McCullough Mulvin Architects, Duggan Brothers