There’s no brass pole for firefighters to slide down at Lancaster city’s new fire station on West King Street.
Instead, firefighters will use a three-story red spiral slide to reach the ground floor of the city’s first new firehouse in 50 years.
The move from traditional pole to the slide is an example of the emphasis placed on workplace safety for the city’s firefighters.
“From day one, Mayor (Danene) Sorace and I made a commitment to our dedicated men and women of the fire bureau that improving their workspace would be a top priority,” fire bureau Chief Scott Little said. “Everyone recognized early on that these facilities had to be built in a specialized manner — it’s not just a garage to house a fire truck as they were designed years ago.”
Firefighters moved into their new $6.5 million station June 4, with administrators including Little joining them Monday.
The new 18,000-square-foot station at 425 W. King St. houses both of the city’s two specialized fire units. At least eight firefighters are always on duty and ready to respond to emergencies 24/7, the fire bureau said in a news release, adding that the station is expected to run about 4,000 service calls each year.
“One of the foundations of a strong city is public safety,” Sorace said. “This new fire station is a major investment and reflects our commitment to providing for the safety of the public by protecting life, property, and the environment.”
Safety is also emphasized in how the station was specially designed to control dangerous contaminants. According to the fire bureau, cancer rates among firefighters are about 40% to 50% higher than the general population, and research has shown that regular exposure to known carcinogens at fire scenes exacerbates these health concerns.
Bruce Evans, the fire station’s architect, incorporated this knowledge into the station’s layout and design. The station is broken up into three zones: a dirty “hot zone” that includes fire apparatus and equipment rooms, a clean “cold zone” that includes administrative and living spaces and a “transition zone” in between.
“It’s not a garage anymore that just stores a fire truck,” Little said. “It’s more about our people. It’s about taking that initiative of knowing our firefighter exposure to carcinogens, the dirty stuff that we’re seeing in the fires and bringing that back.”
The third floor houses a bunk area, including private dorms for a female firefighter, captains and battalion chiefs. It also includes a modern kitchen, areas to eat and watch TV and an outside area with seating and a grill.
The Lancaster City Fire Foundation donated $15,000 in weights and fitness equipment for a fitness room on the second floor.
“The fire foundation does a lot of great support for us,” Little said. “Sometimes there’s things that we need that we just can’t pull off with the general operating budget.”
The building is topped with a green roof that includes vegetation that will help soak up stormwater on rainy days, preventing it from flowing into the city’s sewer system.
With work on the West King Street station now completed, construction crews will now begin working on a second new fire station at 333 E. King St. that will complete the combined $12.7 million infrastructure upgrade at both locations, the fire bureau said.
The East King Street fire station will be under construction for about 12 months.