Phoenix Fire Department Station 59 must work as hard as the firefighters living and operating inside its walls. As a unique living space that also houses equipment and fire trucks loaded with diesel fuel, the station was designed to not only protect firefighters and paramedics from extreme heat, fumes, biological hazards and the demands of time-consuming maintenance, but also provide sound acoustics to create quiet environments. In the video below, discover how the designers at LEA Architects accomplished these unique goals and earned the city of Phoenix its first LEED Platinum building in the process.
"We designed Station 59 with careful consideration of what these dedicated people do all day, every day,” says Larry Enyart, FAIA, LEED Fellow and Principal Architect of LEA Architects. “They live there, work out there and need to quickly be able to get to their trucks to respond to emergencies. Everything about the building needed to facilitate their needs."
To identify user needs, LEA interviewed the staff and determined that the building had to be all about function.
An important design consideration was fireproofing the station, which houses many gallons of highly-combustible diesel fuel just a few feet away from sleeping quarters. The masonry chosen for the building, Echelon Integra™ System with Trenwyth® Trendstone®, are UL and ISO rated non-combustible materials. The thick concrete walls also act as containment walls, buying the firefighters time to control and put out the fire. Since it doesn’t burn, concrete also will not contribute to the buildup of smoke and toxic gases and the station could be quickly restored to use following a fire.
1Measurement of the Ignition Temperature of Wood by Yudon and Drysdale, *Study of Insurance Costs for Mid-Rise Wood Frame and Concrete Residential Buildings, Globe Advisors, January 2016.
2Garis, L and Clare, J. (2014) Fire Outcomes by General Construction Type: A Retrospective Analysis of British Columbia Reported Fires, University of the Fraser Valley.
Not only were LEA Architects mindful of focusing on fire safety, they ensured that living quarters created a healthy and comfortable environment for the crew inside.
For example, a special exhaust extraction system pulls any fire truck exhaust away from residential areas. And, biological contaminants, that may find their way into the facility on medical personnel’s clothes, can’t spread throughout the facility because of the use of separate gear and clothing clean areas.
Noise mitigation for the living quarters was also another important consideration with calls coming in all hours of the day. The masonry walls sound-proof the interior from the trucks coming and going, as well as from rail and other noises of the surrounding industrial complex. Masonry walls even allow people watching television in the dayroom not to disturb others in the bunk area, all of which helps fire fighters and paramedics get much-needed rest in their down-time.
When emergency personnel aren’t working, they shouldn’t have to be doing maintenance on their living quarters.
“We wanted to create a sustainable building, but we also had to take maintenance into account as extremely important for the fire department,” he says. “The station had to be durable because it would be rigorously used 24-7-365. Fire stations are active places that need to be built to withstand tough times and last 50 years.”
Station 59 is in a desert climate, with daily summer averages of 110 to 115°F. For the West-facing elevation that is subject to the sun’s harshest rays, LEA designed the building to shade itself by staggering the walls to provide shade along the length of the building, from one apparatus bay to the next. A continuous horizontal steel shade canopy also filters the sunlight.
“It was important to mitigate the heat on the interior of the building,” says Enyart. “We continued masonry throughout the interior for its thermal mass properties. When the material gets cold, it tends to stay cold, reducing the strain on the air conditioning system.”
The Integra System was chosen because it offers the benefits of a conventional masonry wall system, while at the same time providing superior thermal performance properties. For optimum thermal performance, a proprietary polyurethane, specifically blended for use in the Integra® Wall System, was also used.
“By adding insulation in the walls, we earned more LEED credits, too. It’s a very well-insulated building,” says Enyart. He noted they received LEED Regional Material credits because the masonry was produced only two miles away from the job site.
“From an aesthetic standpoint, one of the things we really liked was the appearance and ground-face finish of the Trendstone product, the rich aggregates and textures it exhibits, and how that finish starts to tie in with some of the other material choices we made,” says Lance Enyart, Larry’s son and co-owner of the firm. “Certainly aesthetics, durability and how the product integrates with other materials were all very important to design.”
The design also pays tribute to the fire station’s primary mission, the fuel farm. The workout room is located within an aluminum-skinned silo shape section of the building. “This is a metaphor for, and nod to, the fuel silos that are the mission target of the station,” explains Enyart. Glass slits wrap up and around the structure to represent the stairs that climb the outside of the fuel tanks, while also letting light into the space.
“Designing their first, and currently only, LEED Platinum building was something we’re really excited to be a part of,” says Larry.
Lance adds, “One of things we’re most proud of, now several years after the building was constructed, is returning to find the firefighters are using the station as intended and seeing how well the building has held up. The Trendstone has really stood up to the abuse these types of buildings take on a daily basis.”
The ability to rely on locally-produced concrete masonry for thermal mass, insulation, and sustainability credits was critical in achieving the City’s goals and in gaining the type of functionality every fire department requires. And, it adds to the quality of life of all of the brave men and women who risk their lives every day to protect their community.