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     The new Towaco Fire House replaces an existing 60-year-old fire house, which was in very poor condition. The old firehouse had proven too small for contemporary fire trucks and too costly to renovate to accommodate them. Since much of the property was situated in a flood plain and the driveway had to be close to an existing intersection, the area available for the building was geographically challenging.

     The 12,000-square-feet of area in this fully sprinkler equipped, barrier-free building is distributed over three floors. The building program consisted of two types of spaces: those associated with the day-to-day operation of this volunteer Fire Department (Apparatus Room, Departmental Offices, Equipment and Locker rooms, and Conference Room), and those associated with the building's role as a site of social gatherings and as the host of community activities. To accommodate the owner's limited construction budget, it was concluded early on that it would not be possible to finish the entire building initially. Since Fire Service could not be compromised, the finishing of the non-essential spaces was postponed. The form of the building is very simple: in Plan, a simple rectangle; in Section, a simple gable. Four large dormers bring daylight into the multipurpose room, located on the third floor, under the gable roof and it's exposed steel structure. 

     The high garage bays occupy the middle of the building, with the offices wrapping around them on the first floor, and the dormitories wrapping around them on the second. The two sets of fire stairs straddle the garage. The facade consists primarily of ground face concrete block in two colors, aligned with the glazed and unglazed portions of the garage doors, respectively. Various rooftop exhaust stacks are clustered in chimney-like enclosures at the gable ends. A cupola tops the building, bringing natural light deep into the Multipurpose Room during the day, and acting as a lantern at night. In addition to the obvious features of a fire station, the project contains a variety of special materials and systems, including greater than normal lateral resistance, as required for such a building in a seismically-active area, checker-plate traction pads, a carbon monoxide exhaust system in the garage, an emergency generator, and an interface enabling emergency operation of the nearby traffic signal. Rather than locate the air handlers on top of the roof where they would have been visible, they were hung underneath the roof, above suspended acoustic ceilings.
 

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