What makes a winner? For Lethbridge (Alberta) Fire Headquarters Station No. 1 — recipient of shared facilities gold in the 2012 Station Style Design Awards — it was foresight. Architects Pacheco Ross and Associates and Westwood Babits Architects attribute the project’s successful design and execution to city officials who attended the Station Style Conference to understand station design and the importance of hiring a fire-station expert to team with the local architect.
Lethbridge Fire Headquarters is a complex facility that includes the headquarters station, public-safety answering point, citywide IT, the fire marshal’s office and an emergency operations center. The EOC already has been activated twice for major incidents.
“The assistant fire chief excitedly explained how much more effective their incident response was in the new EOC and how this made a considerable difference in their operations," said David Pacheco, who served as visiting project architect.
GALLERY: Lethbridge Fire Station Headquarters
Designed as Green Globes-sustainable, the emphasis is on energy efficiency, daylight, sustainable materials and regional sources. The facility is fully sprinklered and is 48% more energy efficient than required: incorporating lighting management, LED lighting, vehicle exhaust, individual zone control, air-quality monitoring, HVAC management, electronic auditable occupant access station alerting, in-floor radiant heat with tankless boilers for bays and building-wise onsite emergency power.
One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the physical integration of so many program uses onto a relatively small urban site all the while maintaining required separations and operational effectiveness. Considerable creative problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking was employed to balance code requirements, security, circulation, common space access and public interaction for all the distinct uses.
“Another lesson we learned from the Lethbridge project is that departments in other countries are facing similar challenges to those in the United States and we concluded that talent does not have a specific nationality, state or area,” Pacheco said. “Emergency response facility design expertise can readily be translated across continents and across borders even when those projects lay thousands of miles away from your home base.
“From a business perspective, when we pursue similar projects in the future, we would better research and navigate the international work permit and banking systems,” he said.