Small Site Delivers Big Returns for Vista Station

The Vista (Calif.) Fire Department is a full-service agency operating from six strategically located stations. The department responded to more than 8,600 calls last year, making it one of the busiest departments in North County.

The city is undergoing significant improvements in the downtown area, and the design and construction of Station 6, led the way for that renovation. Architect Jeff Katz designed the 11,300-square-foot station to compliment the historical adobe structure directly across from Station 6.

“The fact that the station blends very well with the surrounding area complements the city,” Chief Gary Fisher said. “But it also has made a significant difference in response times.”

Katz said that the biggest challenge with Station 6 was fitting the required site and building functions on a relatively small site — adjacent to a city park and requiring with significant utility relocation issues.

“Coordinating the various agencies involved with the utilities and the city was difficult,” Katz said.

“Construction timing can be significantly impacted by utility relocation needs, so utility planning should be done early in the conceptual planning process,” Fisher agreed.

LEED-certified aspects include sustainable strategies for storm-water retention, including pervious paving, low-water-use irrigation and plumbing fixtures, daylighting, and highly efficient HVAC and electrical systems.

“Completing the project as a LEED-silver project without a significant cost impact on the project budget is something that we are very proud of,” Katz said.

Katz credits the Design-Build delivery method and partner for Station 6’s completion on time and under budget.

“It allowed us to respond to changes the city requested without impacting the scheduled completion date,” he said. “We are firm believers that the design-build delivery method provides a better product to the client and this project showcased a great working relationship between the city, the architect and the contractor.”

As far as what might be done differently on the next Vista station, Fisher said he would do additional research on door-opening technology to determine the best signal and receivers to operate the apparatus bay doors.

“Understanding the station-alerting requirements and the preferred vendor’s infrastructure needs is important early in design,” Katz added. “ In this case, we were familiar and understood what the vendor needed, but didn’t find out until the end of the job that there were actually multiple dispatching requirements for the station that needed to be accounted for.”