Designing Fire Stations for the Health & Wellness of Firefighters & Their Communities
Fire departments are making procedural and cultural changes due to the results of research regarding the health effects of carcinogens and firefighters' behavioral health but, where is the change in fire station design? Too many stations fail to control the spread of contaminants, disregard the overall wellbeing of buildging occupants, and lack sufficient space for firefighter personnel training and the use and care of vehicles within the apparatus bay. This leads to the question: How can the design of a fire station positively impact the overall health of not only firefighters, but their communities and the environment? Research has been conducted through interviews with first responders, discussions with architects and interior designers who have fire station design experience, analysis of fire stations and other building types that focus on the occupants' health, and through secondary sources of research conducted and released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). With a functional, yet creative, approach, focused on the overall wellbeing of the station's occupants, a new design solution is proposed. This thesis argues that we must re-imagine fire station design to enhance the overall health, wellbeing, and safety of firefighters, their communities, and the environment.