Green is the new Red for firehouses

by Dennis Machicao

We all appreciate how important our local firehouse is but we never want a visit from its firemen, no matter how good looking he/she is, at least not on official business. But it is comforting to know, that these dedicated men and women can now start to spend their time in a greener, more environmentally friendly firehouse. Their work of fighting fires, in at times toxic environments inhaling smoke is certainly not good for their health. The firehouse can now be a healthier environment they can spend their off time.

Green firehouses come about when they are newly built from the ground up. Most firehouses, especially in urban large cities, are much older structures that can be somewhat retrofitted to improve their “greenness” but structures that are newly designed, are constructed to conform to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

This system addresses sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection and indoor environmental quality. More energy efficient systems and technologies are incorporated that not only are friendly to its environment but also a healthier environment to its occupants.

An example of a green firehouse is one that was built in Norman, Oklahoma and designed by the LEED system. Unlike their older house, this 10,000 sq ft station was constructed closer to a new developing community to cut down their response time to a fire or medical emergency. The structure itself incorporates blown foam insulation to control inside temperatures and insulates it from outside noise.

Entering the house, you pass through two doors that create an air lock that helps control inside temperature, making it 30% less expensive to heat and cool.  Inside the first door, there is a silver corrugated metal pad that catches the dirt from everyone’s shoes so not to track the dirt into the fire station.

Recycled materials are used such as recycled plastic water bottles for the carpet backing. Brick and stone for the outside structure had to be collected locally, plants on the grounds are local to Oklahoma that are able to survive drought. To let more natural light in, domes on the roof filter light through tubes to the rooms below and shades are used when needed. These are just some of the numerous features that make this fire station a green environment and more healthier living experience to the fire fighters of this community.

This is just one example of a number of new firehouses that are now being built throughout the country that incorporate architectural green designs to better their communities and the living conditions of the fire fighters that inhabit them.

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