Project DescriptionWith many aging and obsolete Chicago Fire Department facilities in its inventory of 105 fire stations, and not having constructed a new station since the 1970s, the Chicago Fire Department sought a new prototype design to meet the demands of emergency services in the 21st Century. GREC Architects worked extensively with the Chicago Fire Department for more than one year to assess their needs, survey existing facilities, and develop a new firehouse design. The charges included efficiency (turn-out time), durability (24/7/365 heavy use), functionality (in personnel and vehicular use), and public safety (traffic conflicts). The prototype fire station program anticipated an initial ten implementations of the new station design.
The prototype station is designed to be sited within a typical Chicago city block of 300’ x 125’, with the apparatus room fronting an arterial street. The three apparatus bays are configured for drive-through operations to minimize traffic conflicts incurred by back-in operations upon return to station. Bays are sized for the largest vehicles in the CFD fleet, and will accommodate tandem parking of multiple emergency medical vehicles. The iconic tower adjacent to the apparatus room is designed for gravity-drying of hoses. The apparatus room setback from the street and driveway configuration allow maximum visibility from and of vehicles departing on a call.
Company quarters are configured on one level with access to the apparatus room prioritized, and include sleeping and locker rooms with bathing facilities, fully equipped fitness center, dining room with commercial-grade kitchen, day room, and watch tower with state-of-the-art communications systems. Officer’s quarters are provided with office, bunk and private bathing facilities. All partitions are burnished block masonry and floors are epoxy terrazzo for maximum durability.
An alternate variation of the prototype includes an annex structure of offices for facilities which serve as division headquarters or the department of fire investigation.
Engine Company 63 is the inaugural implementation of the prototype station program, located in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. A regional training facility, Engine 63 is the alternate prototype configuration including office facilities and provisions for a future smoke tower.
Engine Company 18, located in Chicago’s Little Italy, is the implementation of a later variant of the original prototype, with the hose drying tower omitted. Adapted to sustainable design principles, the building has a LEED Silver certification, and includes a solar hot water panel system. A division headquarters, Engine 18 has the configuration including office facilities.
Engine 18 is cast as Firehouse 51, the home station on NBC’s television series Chicago Fire.