The town of Saco took well-deserved pride in a fire station that had served the city well for more than 150 years. But though respect for the station’s past was something town leaders and firefighters were intent on preserving, the design and location of the building were at odds with current needs. Doors originally designed for horse drawn carriages were too small to accommodate modern fire engines, and space limitations restricted the scope of training needed to prepare for a variety of rescue scenarios.
Rethinking both site and structure led to a solution that would allow the new building to function as a 21st century station. Large 14 x 14 foot bays were designed to enable trucks to easily navigate to and from the building, and the route to and from fires could now follow wider avenues than the cramped alleyways surrounding the original structure. A revised interior traffic flow was created for the building’s occupants as well. New sleeping quarters provided individual rooms that granted better rest for firefighters, whose privacy was also supported by a design that segregated the station’s public areas. Multiple training rooms were integrated to cover the classes needed to prepare for all conditions and phases of operation.
Careful consideration was given to maximizing the building’s budget in a way that would support the multiple needs of the station’s staff while honoring those who came before them. The structure’s economical footprint was the foundation of a focus on operational productivity that extended to its systems design as well; the building’s extreme energy-efficiency earned it a $22K check from Efficiency Maine. A brick exterior was built for longterm durability, but also as a final nod to the past. Other features that honored it included plaster horse-head door trims cast from those on the original building, and lobby displays featuring the original pumper truck, fire pole, and a display case full of the firefighters’ awards.