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Watertight Fire Stations

Newly built fire stations combine sleek, modern design with sustainable performance

Garland Case Study Sept18 3
Photo courtesy of Garland Canada Inc.​

The City of Ottawa, Canada’s capital and also its largest geographic area, is growing at unprecedented rates. Its population has grown faster than Ontario and Canada as a whole, and experts predict that within two decades, one in 35 Canadians will call Ottawa home. The growth has spurred commercial and residential development, but has also increased the need for critical services, such as fire and emergency.

Currently, Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) has 45 stations located across the city to provide emergency services to its over 1 million residents spread across more than 1,700 miles. To put that into perspective, OFS serves a geographic area that exceeds the total combined area served by fire services in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary.

As a part of its accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), OFS is required to periodically complete fire location studies to evaluate response times across the city. Based on the results from its latest study conducted in 2015, it was recommended to close two stations in the east and build two new ones. Station No. 55 was built in a suburban area of the city amongst new housing developments, while Station No. 36 is in a developing industrial area.

The new facilities were designed by Hobin Architecture Inc., Ottawa, and built by Morley Hoppner Ltd., Ottawa, as part of a design-build team. The City of Ottawa provided the design team with an outline specification that was similar to two previously built fire stations. While several features of stations No. 46 and 47 were incorporated into the designs of the new stations, one thing Doug Brooks, partner and senior technologist with Hobin Architecture, did as lead on the project, was simplify the design.

Photo courtesy of Garland Canada Inc.

“The exterior envelope of those previous fire stations was a little complicated,” Brooks explains. “There are angled walls or unusual connections as far as the way the materials met. Our designs simplified the whole program.”

As outlined in the specification, sloped and flat roofs were incorporated into the design. The sloped portion of the roof is over the apparatus bay where the fire vehicles are parked and features a unique, seamless design with Cleveland-based Garland Co. Inc.’s R-Mer Span standing seam metal panels used on both the walls and the roof. Part of the decision to use Garland’s 22-gauge, pre-weathered Galvalume steel panels included their ability to be installed in a structural application over open framing on slopes as low as 1/4:12.

To achieve a watertight assembly, the wall panels were installed first, extending about 10 inches above the roof. The panels were folded down onto the roof and the edges sealed with butyl sealant as an extra measure of protection. The roof panels were then installed on top, using closed rivets across the front seam where the roof panel meets the wall panel to create the illusion from the ground of one seamless panel encompassing that entire section of the building. A unique knee plate was used within the seams to help create a seamless look that allows for watertight performance at this transition. An additional measure taken to aid in the overall performance of the roof was to move the fixed point of the panel to this eave location, allowing the panels to freely expand and contract at the ridge. A snow retention system was also installed on the roof due to the high amounts of yearly snowfall in Ottawa.

Photo courtesy of Garland Canada Inc.

“We liked the ability of the panels to be seamless vertically up the wall and then across the roof as well,” Brooks says. “It was a great choice to get the aesthetics we wanted.”

The walls were constructed using a rainscreen assembly to increase the energy efficiency of the facilities and contribute to LEED certification. The City of Ottawa requires all newly constructed city buildings with a footprint larger than 5,000 square feet to be designed at minimum to a LEED certified standard. Both fire stations were built to LEED Gold standard and are undergoing the process of certification.

Other sustainable features incorporated into the design include:

  • High overall building envelope performance
  • Increased insulation values throughout roof and wall assemblies
  • Fiberglass windows with high-performance glass
  • Daylighting throughout every room in the facility promoting natural light and ventilation into most spaces
  • Use of regional and recycled materials
  • Mechanical and electrical systems that exceed energy performance standards

In addition to improving emergency services to the community, the City of Ottawa’s goal when constructing these facilities is to ensure they will perform for the long term with minimal maintenance.

“Energy efficiency and durability are what we focus on more than anything,” explains Shawn Lynch, project manager for the City of Ottawa. “When you’re spending public money, you want the buildings to last. We’re all about designing buildings that you don’t have to go back and fix later. And you can’t get any more durable than a steel roof.”

Each station is equipped with a pumper truck and accommodates four platoons comprised of four fire safety personnel on rotating shifts. Construction began in April 2017 and both facilities were fully operational in February 2018.


Together, Jeremy Vezina and Matt McNeely have more than two decades of experience in the commercial construction industry, developing long-term watertight solutions for a wide range of customers. To learn more, visit www.garlandco.com.

*R-Mer Span is a trademark of The Garland Co. Inc. and Garland Canada Inc. Galvalume is a trademark of BIEC International Inc.