The Fishers community has seen dramatic growth in recent years, and the Fishers Fire Department’s new downtown station and headquarters, Fire Station 91, was built in direct response to this growth.
“The station that we have now replaced was built in 1991, and that doesn’t seem too old for a building with today’s construction standards, but if you look at Fishers in 1991, I don’t think anyone could have guessed then just how much Fishers would grow in that 18-year time span,” says Todd Rielage, captain of Station 91. “I don’t think anybody could have predicted how many firefighters we’d need to protect even the central district that we have, let alone all the staffing that we had to add on the headquarters side.”
Rielage adds that both the layout and the technology at the previous station were less than optimal to provide maximum safety and efficiency for the department.
“We have more data collected now on things like sleep patterns, run response times, and turnout gear storage, and all those things were deficiencies we saw in the old building,” he says. “Also, the construction itself was built like a residence, without any steel. It took less than four hours to tear it down, and it wasn’t built like a commercial building that can withstand 24/7 use.”
Demolition of the previous station took place in the spring of 2018, and the City of Fishers partnered with Indianapolis-based DELV Design to come up with a design plan that would accommodate both a fire station and an administrative headquarters. The result is a facility that spans more than 30,000 square feet, housing seven apparatus bays for the Fire Department, living quarters for the firefighters, and an administrative side that includes a training space. Construction was completed by Fishers-based Meyer Najem Construction.
Fishers firefighters officially settled in at the new facility last summer. The building features a negative air flow system in areas where carcinogens and other contaminants might be present, such as the dedicated personal protective equipment (PPE) storage room.
“If you think about areas like the bays and work areas, where we might bring turnout gear back, and where truck exhaust might be, we tried to create a barrier between those areas and the living quarters and administration side,” Rielage says. “Those work zones are negatively pressured to take those contaminants and pull them out away from any kind of living quarter. The other zones are positively pressured, and there are double doors between the living quarters and our bays to help create more of a barrier.”
The temperature-controlled PPE storage room is also isolated from the sun, as Rielage says sunlight tends to break down firefighter protective gear quickly.
Combining classic and modern visuals, the fire station side features red brick that has long been associated with fire stations, and the headquarters includes metal panelling. The station houses a fitness room, individual bunk areas, a lounge space, and an outdoor kitchen facility that allows the staff to interact with nearby foot traffic.
“We always like engaging with the public when we can, and all the firefighters really enjoy it,” Rielage says of the kitchen space.
Those entering the administrative side of the station will see a tribute to Fishers Assistant Chief Raymond “Bud” Moulder, who died while assisting the Noblesville Fire Department in October of 1967. The memorial cabinet, built by Moulder’s family members, reminds those visiting of the dangers inherent to the job of firefighters. The station also features a monument to Moulder on the exterior.
While the building is equipped with state-of-the-art features, there are also a few vintage elements, like a 30-year-old fire pole used at the previous station, and the house siren, used by the department back in the 1950s and 1960s.
“When we set out to build the station, we looked at three main areas we wanted to accomplish,” Rielage says. “First we looked at effectiveness of the service delivery, which is things like how quickly we can get from one part of the station to the fire truck, and how well can we store our turnout gear. We also had to consider aesthetics, because Fishers is known for having a beautiful, vibrant downtown feel. I think with DELV we accomplished something that fit into that mold.”
Lastly, Rielage explains, the project leaders wanted to incorporate and honor the tradition that the department has established through the years.
“I think with those three elements, we created something that Fishers residents can be proud of when they walk by and see us going out to an emergency,” Rielage says. “They know we’re operating as efficiently as possible because of that station and the design.”