Fire stations of the world: Engine Co 115: Largest firehouse in Chicago history, US
The largest firehouse in Chicago history and the first new multi-apparatus facility in decades on the Far South Side opened for service Wednesday, 31 March 2021. Located at 1024 West 119th street, this structure is the largest firehouse ever constructed in the city proper at 27 000 square feet and will be a home-away-from-home for approximately 20 fire fighters/EMTs and eight officers: housing sleeping quarters, locker rooms, a workout facility, full-service kitchen with pantry and dining area, day room, laundry and wellness room. A training space, conference room, and open office space will be shared by the Engine company 115 team and the CFD District Office. The facility will also feature a state-of-the-art emergency communications hub, watchtower, open office spaces and a four-bay apparatus room with a hose drying tower. Engine company 115 will house two engines, a tower ladder, two advanced life support ambulances, an OEMC communications monopole, an EMS field chief and a deputy district chief.
This project represents a $30 million investment in the West Pullman community and is a prime example of how municipal projects can accomplish a two-fold goal of providing much needed jobs and economic vitality to a community, while simultaneously improving its safety and security with the end results.
"This project, which leverages an investment of $30 million, has been an incredible economic driver during its construction and will significantly enhance CFD's ability to protect our residents in West Pullman and the surrounding area," said Mayor Lightfoot. "In addition to increasing the safety and security of far South Side residents and our entire city, this state-of-the-art facility will also give our first responders the resources they need to respond rapidly to an emergency and recharge afterward."
The firehouse has many unique systems designed to enhance safety as well as improve operational efficiency including;
This new firehouse is strategically located to allow for rapid response to both I-94 and I-57 interstate highways as needed, while serving its primary function of providing enhanced coverage of the far Southside, which has not seen a new multi-apparatus firehouse in decades. Engine Company 115 also has a radio communications tower that will enhance data and voice communications, greatly reducing dead spots that have been reported in the past.
The firehouse was designed by the Public Building Commission in consultation with the Chicago Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The equity focused construction process placed a special emphasis on employing people of colour and women throughout the development process and altogether created 72 construction jobs, with 30 percent of the contractors who assisted in the project being from minority owned businesses.
Fire Commissioner Richard C Ford II, who retired from the department in a few short days after the opening said, “This much needed firehouse will increase the safety and security our neighbourhoods on the far Southside with its location, apparatus compliment and ability to enhance public safety communications while providing members with a local training centre to enhance their life saving skills and education.”
“Throughout its construction, this project served as an important economic booster to the 34th Ward and West Pullman community,” Said 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin. “Now that Engine Company 115 is completed, this firehouse will serve as an important resource for keeping our vibrant community safe.”
“As the public developer who was responsible for the planning, design and construction of this facility, the Public Building Commission of Chicago took great pride in constructing this modernly designed space that embodies the ‘spirit of service’ of each man and woman who serves as a fire fighter or first responder,” said Carina E Sanchez, PBC’s executive director. “Everything from the four-bay apparatus room with hose drying tower and OEMC communication monopole, to the four station watch tower and communication hub, we wanted to provide these modern-day heroes with the necessary facility to fulfil their mission.”
The grand opening came just in time for retiring Fire Commissioner Richard C Ford II. “This firehouse is beautiful, state of the art and what the community from the Far South Side has needed for more than a couple of decades. And more importantly, what it deserves. We’re replacing a combined, 300 years of facilities,” Ford said.
“Because of its location and amenities, this new firehouse will allow a more efficient use of resources for personnel on the South and Southeast Sides. ... Our communications are markedly improved because of the equipment being installed. ... Nothing can lead to tragedy more than a gap in communication and this new facility will help enhance communications for both the police and fire departments.”
Sources: City of Chicago Government, Chicago Sun Times