When Allen & Shariff began MEP/FP engineering design services for the renovation of and addition to the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company, we knew it would be a challenging yet unique undertaking. There were many aspects of the project that were ambitious but because we partnered with architectural firm RSSC, a company Allen & Shariff has worked with for approximately 18 years, our collaboration comes second nature and we knew that together we’d provide the best solution for the client.
The renovation of the existing 9,150 SF facility included HVAC upgrades, replacement of lighting, and some other miscellaneous improvements. Because most of the working spaces and vehicle bays were already housed within the original building, the addition – which spanned 9,349 SF, more than doubling the size of the existing space – included features that make the facility more livable for firefighters who spend extended periods of time there. This included a workout facility, a kitchen and lounge, and sleeping rooms.
What made the project so unique were a set of special considerations necessary due to the nature of the use of the building. For example, the lighting and lighting controls were designed to limit the lighting levels along the path from the dorm rooms to the vehicle bays to avoid firefighters’ exposure to high brightness immediately after being awakened for an emergency. We also designed a firehouse alerting system, which is a communication system that keeps the entire facility updated on emergencies. The system includes an automatic gas shut off valve so the firefighters can leave in a moment’s notice and their own building won’t catch fire if they have something on the stove.
Other challenges only became apparent once the project was underway. After digging the basement foundation hole, the contractor discovered a high ground water table or spring that kept the foundation hole constantly wet. The team had to quickly design a new sump pump system to dewater the foundation hole and keep it in place for the life of the building.
Because this was a local government project, multi-prime contractors were needed. This style often adds a layer of complexity because each contractor has its own independent contract with the owner and coordination between contractors can become complicated at times. But between Allen & Shariff’s experience in the industry and our close relationship with the architect, it was a challenge we were willing (and excited) to take on. We worked closely with the client, who was also the code reviewer and enforcer and had very specific requests for equipment that were based on lessons learned from other facilities within the municipality.
Through our past experience working with local government entities, our strong relationships with stakeholders, and our creativity and flexibility when unique problems arose, Allen & Shariff was able to provide a solution that both exceeded the expectations of our client and represented our company’s mission and values.
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