Look inside city’s newest fire station

Feb. 10, 2021

This paid piece is sponsored by TSP.

When the firefighters assigned to Sioux Falls’ oldest station at Ninth Street and Minnesota Avenue look out the front doors, they see businesses in every direction.

When Central Fire Station opened in 1912, however, multistory mansions lined the surrounding streets.

The neighborhood has changed, but the mission remains the same: to protect city residents from the destruction a fire can cause.

That is the same mission facing the firefighters who are serving the city in Sioux Falls’ newest facility: Fire Station 12 at 3300 S. Faith Ave., along East 41st Street between Veterans Parkway and Six Mile Road.

“This one definitely is part of a neighborhood,” said Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Brad Goodroad. “You look to the south and west and you see residences. Across to the north, you have the new (Ben Reifel) middle school, then there’s the Brandon elementary school.”

Four-person crews have been stationed at Fire Station 12 since Jan. 7, but a remodeling project at Central Fire Station means crews from that location are serving the newest firehouse. New firefighters are joining the department, and by the time an open house is held in May, the new crew will be in place. Twelve firefighters will be assigned to the station, with four there always.

If any of the new crew moves over from Fire Station 11 on North Valley View Road, much of the building surrounding them will seem familiar. That’s because 11 and 12 are based on a template that keeps the layout very similar for each building while offering the flexibility to change the layout based upon its location within their system, said TSP Inc. architect Sean Ervin, who served as project manager for Fire Station 12. A similar layout was used earlier in the fire stations on East 10th Street and on West 12th Street near Family Park.

“The city wanted a reliable prototype they could carry from one site to the next,” Ervin said. “The prototype has the flexibility to customize to the neighborhood it’s going to sit in and the role that station plays in their system of stations.”

Both fire stations were constructed in a red and tan color scheme, selected as a historic nod to the quartzite and limestone used in Central Fire Station. Detailing elements such as quoining, a decorative approach to define the corners, give both buildings of about 10,000 square feet each a distinctive look.

Using the template and after talking with city staff, TSP’s architectural and engineering designers crafted fire stations with significant differences. The exteriors and interiors of the two fire stations do offer changes designed to meet both site restrictions and neighborhood needs.

The most obvious visual difference is the doors from which the firetrucks and other apparatus emerge. Rather than overhead doors, Fire Station 12 offers bifold or side-folding doors. The doors open out rather than roll over the firetrucks.

“They open much faster and offer lower maintenance than the standard doors,” said TSP architect Rex Hambrock. “There’s a little more clearance required, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly negligible. The base bid was for a standard door, with the folding doors as an alternate. We were able to design them in the same opening.”

The folding door was a little more expensive than the traditional door, Goodroad said.

“But there will be some cost savings that have been proven in the future with less maintenance damage. They operate quicker, and they operate quieter, so you can hear things on the radio. I think with that glass on the top and bottom, it makes it more inviting to the neighborhood. You go by at night, and you can see the equipment.”

Division Chief Jeff Helm also favors the new glass doors, viewing it as a form of art.

“The crews who are out there now have talked about it,” Helm said. “We talked about another piece of art for the site, but this is art to us.”

The ability to see inside the fire station offers connectivity to the adjacent residents, Hambrock agreed, noting that the folding doors harken back to the carriage doors in old-style firehouses.

Another variation from Fire Station 11 is that Fire Station 12 is not a drive-through facility. It is situated so the fire apparatus goes out and comes in the same doors, rather than driving to the back of the building to pull in.

“With how the land is set up, we were unable to do the drive-through, but there’s enough land up front we can maneuver in and out of the doors without backing out into the street,” Helm said.

In addition, there’s a cost savings in not needing the extra concrete required by a drive-through, and fewer doors are needed, Goodroad said. Also, it allows for more storage space to the rear of the building for equipment.

Fire Station 12’s apparatus bay was increased in size to handle the different equipment strategically located around Sioux Falls, Hambrock said. In addition, since the city building code has changed since Fire Station 11 was built, the new facility includes a storm shelter for staff.

“We could incorporate the shelter in the original prototype footprint because of some program functions they were shifting around,” Hambrock said. “An office and sleeping quarters for the battalion chief was not needed here, and we incorporated the storm-sheltered classroom into that space.”

Both Fire Stations 11 and 12 were designed with a roofline that complements the neighborhood, Ervin said.

“It’s a fire station, yet we gave it some of the scale and detailing and a residential approach to make it fit better into the residential neighborhood,” he said. “It’s small, subtle differences. But the Fire Department considers consistency very important as they move staff around from location to location, hoping as staff get used to the building they know where everything is because they’ve been at other buildings.”

Fire Station 12 also was designed to accommodate a report-to-work station for police officers at some point in the future. The building was designed and situated on the lot knowing someday its use will be expanded.

Planning for Fire Station 12 began about eight years ago, Goodroad said. Its construction was pushed back several times, but there was no doubt as Sioux Falls continued to grow in that area it would be needed. The response time of firetrucks had increased from the baseline of five minutes and 12 second to about eight minutes, and volume of calls also had increased.

Long-term planning also is needed to ensure land availability.

Goodroad, who is retiring this month, said city officials support such long-range planning, and Sioux Falls someday will have a Fire Station 13.

“Anytime you open a station, it’s a big deal,” he said. “It shows support for public safety. Our mayor and City Council know there’s a need and know there’s growth, so support there is tremendous.”

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Look inside city’s newest fire station

The growing southeast side of Sioux Falls has a new neighborhood fire station – and we think you’ll enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the building.

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