Colorado Springs' newest fire station is a throwback to firehouses of years past.

The living quarters are on the second floor, and firefighters can slide down two shiny fire poles to rapidly reach the trucks below when the alarm sounds.

But Fire Station 21 is also an example of what the future holds.

The 12,000-square-foot fire station, near Powers and Dublin boulevards to handle calls in growing northeast Colorado Springs, is the first building of its kind in the city.

"This building is currently scored LEED-platinum," architect Jim Fennell said, referring to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

"That sounds like a cool thing for our community and it is, but what's really great about it is that it saves money," he said. "If you look at the way the station operates, the way it performs, it has mechanical systems in place that actually save about 60 percent of the cost of energy and water use as compared to other facilities."

The LEED design means the building is efficient and environmentally responsible, among other criteria.

Some examples:

- So-called "grey water" from the showers and laundry can be cleaned on site and used to irrigate a community garden outside.

- Sun shades on the outside of the building block the sun in the summertime but allows more sunlight in the winter.

"As the hot air builds up inside the stair towers, there are a couple of small mechanical fans that circulate the hot air from the stair towers through the rest of the building," Fennell said.

- The tile in the bathrooms has a nano-coating that produces oxygen and kills bacteria.

"We had to bring this tile in from Germany," Fennell said. "It was a great investment. It helped us on the green building credits."

The public can see the station up close during a grand opening celebration at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The fire station is at 7320 Dublin Blvd.

The news media got a peek Wednesday, two days after it officially opened for service.

Fire Capt. Glenn Conklin said firefighters assigned to the fire station, which has stunning views of Pikes Peak, are "thrilled" to be there.

"I think all the firefighters are really intrigued about how it's going to work," he said. "We don't know a lot about the building yet as far as how it works and all the systems. We've only been in here actually a couple of days at this point, so we're still learning, but we're all very excited."

The $2.4 million building is equipped with an engine and brush truck for wildfire response. But it has three bays, which means it has the capacity to hold another unit, such as a ladder truck, if needed.

"You know, a fire house, honestly, is a garage that you live in," Conklin said.

The second floor includes a state-of-the-art kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a workout room, office space, a TV room and common sleeping quarters for male and female firefighters.

"The majority of our stations are set up with common sleeping quarters," fire department spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino said.

Twelve firefighters working three shifts will live at the station. The cost of staffing the station is being covered by a two-year grant, which will force the city to figure out how to pay for staffing when the grant expires.

"That will be up for our city leaders and our fire department leadership to figure out," Conklin said.


Contact Daniel J. Chacon 476-1623.