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Communities Develop New Uses for Fire Stations

By John McBryde on August 25, 2014

Photo courtesy of City of Hayward, Calif.

When it comes to handling emergencies – be they medical, injuries or natural disasters – firefighters are just about the most trusted people on the planet.

So it is partly from this perspective that the city of Hayward, Calif., made the decision to incorporate a health-care facility within its new Fire Station No. 7 that is under construction in the southern part of the city. Ground broke on the station and the Firehouse Clinic in June, and completion is expected in September 2015.

“There’s a level of trust where (people) see the fire department coming and helping when family members are sick or injured, when there’s a car wreck or fire,” says Frank Holland, community and media relations officer for the city of Hayward. “All of that goes a long way to establish a trust in the community. And to be able to extend that in health care is something that makes perfect sense.”

The Firehouse Clinic is a collaboration between the Hayward Fire Department, Tibercio Vasquez Health Center, Acute Care Hospitals and Alameda County Health Care Service Agency’s Emergency Medical Services Division. Designed as an alternative to community clinics that can have long wait times, the Firehouse Clinic will offer a broad range of health-care services for residents in this San Francisco Bay Area county.

“It really establishes the true continuum of health care, from preventive care to first responders to in-hospital to discharge,” Holland says. “Health care is an ongoing cycle. It really starts with solid preventative care, getting people seen early. So preventing the illness is critical.”

From Old to New

Holland says the combined fire station and health clinic facility may be the first of its kind in the country.

A similar merging is taking place in Washington, D.C., where a hotel will be built on top of the new Engine Co. 13 fire station not far from the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol.

And in some cases, historic fire stations across the nation are becoming entirely different facilities.

In Fort Worth, Texas, the old Fire Station No. 10 on Lipscomb Street has been refurbished as a community building where the Fort Worth school district is offering adult education classes. The fire hall was built in 1910.

Officials and residents in Woods Hole, Mass., have done something similar with an old fire station there, turning it into a community center to host meetings, film screenings, a weekend craft-and-farmers market, and other activities.

The city of Lancaster, Pa., has not only “recycled” an old fire station, but it has also turned it into a recycling center. The old Fire Station 4 is now the Recycling Drop-Off Center at 850 New Holland Ave.

In a couple of cities, old fire halls have actually been converted into residences.

The old Fire Station No. 5 in Lansing, Mich., was sold in May to a couple who plan to refurbish into their home. And a man in St. Paul, Minn., has purchased the old Fire Station No. 4 at East Seventh and Flandrau streets to remodel and make his private residence.

There’s a level of trust where (people) see the fire department… to be able to extend that in health care is something that makes perfect sense.
Frank Holland
Community and Media Relations, City of Hayward, CA
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