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Rural New Mexico Fire Department to Build Nation’s First Rammed Earth Fire Station

Industry: Commerical Building

Latir Fire Department's team of 20 serves 200 square miles in northern New Mexico out of 2-Bay Building. Seeks Upgrade to Uber-Green Rammed-Earth Fire Station.

New Mexico (PRUnderground) February 28th, 2014

Latir Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD)’s small but mighty crew of 19 volunteers deliver structural firefighting, wildland fire protection, EMS, motor vehicle-crash response, search and rescue, and swift water rescue to a total area of about 200 square miles.  They provide mutual aid for 20 regional departments and automatic aid to six neighboring departments.  The team is comprised of 6 women—about 10 times the percentage found in fire stations across the nation.

Fire Chief jona olsson wrote the $45,000 grant which was received from the state legislature in 2004. This grant enabled Latir to hire Fennell Group from Colorado Springs and Huitt-Zollars from Albuquerque to design the fire station through charettes with the department and community members.  The current plan includes rammed-earth wall construction, using dirt from the local area. Rammed earth construction is not only beautiful, it provide thermal mass, and represents a sustainable 1000-year old “technology.”

“Our intention is to construct a low maintenance, zero-energy facility. A geo-exchange system below ground, direct gain, passive solar, plus passive pre-heaters on the south side will eliminate fossil fuel use for heating/cooling. Active solar system will provide the electricity required to operate the station,” explains olsson.

The architect’s rendering of the facility is titled: “Expressing the Sacred Nature of Water.” One of the primary features of the design is the water catchment; storage and re-use of rainwater / snowmelt capture system. In this high desert environment, water is precious to local farmers as well as firefighters. Water captured will be used for fire suppression, training, apparatus and equipment washing, and irrigating the community garden.

“Another critical reason we need a new station and multi-purpose center is because of wildfires.  There’s no adequate, year-round community center between Questa and the Colorado line. The major wildfire we had over the mountain last year didn’t encroach on any community, luckily.  But with global warming and how serious our wildfires have gotten, it’s simply a matter of time before we have a big one here. We have no evacuation center, no distribution center for equipment; no place for a base camp.”

The new Latir Fire Station plan will be developed in two phases.  The fire station itself is Phase 1, at 1.9 million.  The station will house the fire vehicles as well as fire and EMS offices, storage facilities, a meeting / training room with computer access and small kitchen, plus bunk rooms: a federal requirement for future live-in personnel.

The station would also include training props to facilitate rigorous on-site training for local and regional firefighters.  Phase 2, estimated at $850,000 would add an adjacent building and outdoor plaza to accommodate meetings, large and small, for local and regional firefighters while doubling as a community center with a community garden and outdoor amphitheater in the rear.

For more information or to support making the Latir Fire Station’s dream of the first Rammed Earth Fire station come true, contact jona olsson at or (575) 586-2488 (575) 586-2488The full article is located here.

This news feature is brought to you by Construction Reporter.  Since 1949, Construction Reporter has been publishing timely, reliable construction news and bidding documents on commercial construction projects out for bid in New Mexico and the surrounding states.  The oldest public plan room of its type in the Southwest, our physical plan library and news operations are based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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