When the City of Burnsville conducted a facility needs assessment in 2015, it became obvious that Fire Station No. 1 (911 W. 140th St.) was no longer fitting the bill.
The station, originally built in 1976, was undersized, had an inefficient layout for modern fire and emergency medical services (EMS) operations – and in some places, was literally falling apart.
Where to Build?
Following the facilities study, the City worked with consultants on a fire station-specific plan to determine how best to meet the City’s future fire and EMS needs. The study found that the current location of Fire Station No. 1 was too small for a replacement station, and left no room for future growth to adapt to the City’s evolving needs.
The decision was made to seek a new, strategically placed location within the City to serve as the future home for Fire Station No. 1. After reviewing nine potential locations, the City found the perfect place – nearly 4.5 undeveloped acres at the corner of 143rd Street and Newton Avenue.
The City is working to purchase the land in early 2020, and design is currently underway for an anticipated fall 2020 groundbreaking.
Building Design and Firefighter/EMS Wellness
Firefighter wellness was a top priority for the future station. The new fire station will be designed and built with firefighter wellness – both physical and mental – in mind. In older stations, firefighter protective gear (which often had been exposed to carcinogens on a fire scene) would be hung in an open locker where it would off-gas toxins and take in additional toxins from vehicle exhaust. This created long-term exposure risks.
Firefighters are four to five times more likely to get cancer and are regularly subjected to a variety of carcinogens while doing their jobs. In response to these findings, industry leaders began to change protocols to reduce exposure. These protocols will be supported by the new station design.
Reduce Toxin Exposure through Hazard Zones
It is anticipated that the station will be laid out into three “hazard zones.” The goal is to keep firefighters’ living quarters as far away from potential toxins and contaminants as possible.
The apparatus bays where the trucks and equipment are stored are considered a high hazard area. Trucks returning from a fire scene will pull into a bay that is furthest away from living quarters. Firefighters will put on gloves and masks to handle the equipment used, to wash the gear and to wash the truck. Gear will then be placed in a contained room with open lockers and an exhaust fan to address off-gassing.
The warm zone will be the buffer between high hazard and low hazard areas. It will start with storage and industrial laundering, and continue into a shower area. Firefighters will keep a fresh change of clothes here, allowing them to return from a fire, shower and then place their clothes in the wash.
The living area is the lowest hazard area and is considered to be fully decontaminated.
This is a sample of a zone system that creates distance between
living quarters and the areas that potentially contain contaminants.
To help support firefighter mental wellness, new stations are being designed to be more comfortable with furniture and accessories that you would see in an average home. Living quarters need to be bright during the day and include plants and greenery.
An existing alerting system in the current fire station will also be moved to the new station. The system allows a gradual volume ramp up of the alert for a call. This significantly decreases heart stress caused by scare awake systems that jolt responders awake.