Tyler’s Newest Fire Station Features Modern Design
By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONS
From a design standpoint, Tyler's cool new Fire Station 5 really sizzles.
Most of the city's red brick stations are in residential areas so they blend in with their surroundings.
But Station 5's new location is in a mostly industrial area, at 1532 S. Bennett Ave. near Robertson Road, so it features a modern, eco-friendly barrel roof design that's a bit more edgy and urban.
This fire house has more going for it than good looks, fire officials said.
"There are several things about this station that are really efficient," Chief Tim Johnson said. "The basic floor plan is designed to get the firefighters to the truck in the fastest way. This entire building is filled with little things to help them out."
The structure, set to open in a few weeks, costs less to build than a standard station, about $1.6 million compared to the $3.8 million combined tally for Stations 7 and 10.
Funding comes from half-cent sales tax revenue.
Design inspiration comes from the people who will use it: firefighters.
"They added a lot of things that will make it a great station," Johnson said.
The 8,865-square-foot station features an open concept plan with lots of windows and wide corridors.
Special non-skid concrete flooring is designed for heavy use and easy cleaning, Bruce Bonham, project superintendent for Watson Commercial Construction, Ltd., said.
"It's got a good bite to it," he said, demonstrating how wet boots won't slip. "It's a safety issue."
This new station replaces Fire Station 5, built in 1985 at 2815 Frankston Highway in the St. Louis area.
The station's new location takes advantage of the anticipated completion of Earl Campbell Parkway to help reduce response times in a growing area of the city, officials said.
Assistant Chief David Schlottach said the building is designed to be super stingy on electricity usage, thereby saving money on utility bills.
"This should be the most energy efficient station that we've got," Schlottach said. "I'm not sure there's another station like it in Texas, I think it's one of the best -- I'd put it up against anybody's."
The facility is not certified as green construction, but it includes many features that are intended to be environmentally friendly, officials said.
Underneath the metal roof, there are at least 6 inches of insulation.
The jumbo sized fans -- an 8-foot unit in the workout room and a 12-foot one in the engine bay -- are designed to move air, and lots of it.
Fans can be programmed to be motion activated so that they operate only when needed, the chief said.
Station 5 firefighters asked for elbow room and convenience at their new house.
The large open kitchen features a commercial cook stove, expansive counters and plenty of dark wooden cabinets, but no dishwasher.
"In my career, 35 years and counting, cooks don't wash dishes," Schlottach teased. "That's SOP, Standard Operating Procedure."
Each of the three shifts that work out of the station has its own pantry area and refrigerator for food storage.
Off the kitchen, there is a type of "man cave," a covered patio and grill, surrounded by a picket fence for security.
Restrooms and locker areas are twice as big as the current station, and there are separate spaces for women in those spaces, as well as in the sleeping quarters.
The fire department has only one female firefighter, but officials said it's only a matter of time before there are more women. Civil service applicants must pass a series of written and physical agility tests to become eligible for employment.
Officials opted to leave certain elements, such as metal piping and sections of ventilation, exposed rather than covered -- some painted red to contrast with the surroundings.
The exterior faade features plenty of stone and an earthy colored insulated finish, which is mixed with cement and applied by trowel rather than hammer.
Functionality aside, the new station, with its industrial feel, just looks cool.
Officials said the station's anticipated completion fulfills an earlier six-year plan to build Station 10, now at 2502 Old Omen Road, and relocate new Station 7 to its current site, 344 Troup Highway.
And if all goes according to plan, Tyler is expected in the coming years to consider build even more stations to meet the demands of a growing citizenry.
"We are so thankful to work for a city that will allow us to have a facility like this," Johnson said, enjoying the breeze generated by the massive fan.
The assistant chief agreed.
"And the day we move in, it's paid for," Schlottach said. "You can't get any better than that."