Comprehensive Strategies for Firefighter Crew Wellness

Prioritizing Firefighter Wellness Through Design

Robert Robicsek, AIA, NCARB, Principal, Civic Studio Leader | April 2024

The development of new Fire Station comes with the opportunity to implement modern Fire Station design. Through past project experience, research, and participation in relevant industry events, Lavallee Brensinger is at the forefront of innovative design strategies and prepared to provide guidance in the most critical issues surrounding fire station design. Recognizing crew wellness as paramount, we address critical factors that shape safety and preparedness for both employees and the community.

The health and wellness of the crew is a critical concern. Three major areas of focus are: Carcinogenic Contamination, Disease and Pathogen Contamination, and Sleep Deprivation. The design of the station can have a direct impact on each of these issues. The increasing number of firefighters with cancer and other job-related health issues requires careful attention to the wellness of the crew. The design team must focus on controlling and containing carcinogens on personnel and equipment. Consideration must be given to the proper ventilation of exhaust in the apparatus bays, the storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in ventilated rooms away from living and administrative areas, transition areas to prevent cross contamination of living spaces, and separate laundry areas for PPE versus station wear.

There are also innovative strategies for prioritizing their physical wellbeing such as the inclusion of physical agility spaces and dry saunas, which allow the firefighter to sweat out carcinogenic contaminants. Providing a well-designed station that makes decontamination procedures self-evident and easy to execute can minimize exposure to diseases and pathogens. Decontamination spaces located adjacent to apparatus bays provides direct access when returning from a call.

Additionally, we recommend new automated / no touch technology employed in facilities to disinfect and decontaminate the interior of ambulances and apparatus to reduce staff and patient exposure to dangerous pathogens.

Recent studies have also demonstrated the link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular disease, as well as other health related issues. Firefighters are becoming more and more sleep deprived because of increased call volume, decreased staffing, and automatic and mutual aid call volume. The creation of acoustically isolated spaces can allow for a variety of activities and functions of a diverse crew. Employing a station alerting system which only awakens on-call units with ramped tones and lighting allows non-dispatched crews uninterrupted rest.


About Robert Robicsek

Robert Robicsek, AIA, Principal, Civic Studio Leader

603.622.5450 Extension 110 |
Drawing from over 35 years of national practice, Bob serves as the Civic Studio Leader at Lavallee Brensinger Architects. His leadership has driven the successful design oversight of over two million square feet of newly constructed and renovated civic spaces.