As former volunteer firefighter with the Timberline Fire Protection District in Boulder County, Eric Becker knows firsthand the stress and emotional toll firefighting entails. As an architectural designer and project manager with OZ, Becker is also familiar with the evidence showing that a thoughtful approach to architectural design can play an important role in relieving workplace stress and promoting mental and emotional well-being. For firefighters, this approach to designing fire stations can help them find relief in a job that exacts a steep emotional toll including higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep deprivation and extended periods of isolation from family and friends.
In Fire Rescue 1, a leading firefighter news source, Becker provides tips for integrating wellness into fire station design including highlights from recent examples of OZ Architecture’s fire station projects. The article also shares how designing for mental and emotional well-being doesn’t have to to drain budgets and taxpayer dollars.
Some of Becker’s tips include:
- Private living room-style gathering spaces that give firefighters a place to spend private time with loved ones and relieve the stress of separation;
- A mix of private and social spaces for differing moods, mindsets and personality types;
- Opportunities to connect with the natural world through biophilic design including abundant natural light and calming earth tones;
- Special lighting systems that include “blackout” light mitigation features, along with noise and lighting controls to limit sleeping disruptions; and
- Locating stations within rather than on the outskirts of a community to encourage connection between the firefighters and the people they serve without compromising response times.