Why ICF is a Best Practice in Constructing Public Safety Buildings

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Public safety building construction spending is projected to grow by 6.6 percent in 2019. A forecast that will give many communities the chance to replace aging structures with public safety buildings that have manageable short- and long-term expenses and are more safe and comfortable for the first responders and other occupants of the buildings.

First responders, whether firefighters or EMS personnel, put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities. It is crucial to the safety and well-being of these first responders, along with neighborhoods they serve, that the public safety building (e.g., fire stations, emergency medical services (EMSs)) architecture and construction creates disaster-resistant and healthy structures. Furthermore, while building costs for public safety buildings are always a concern for communities, it is essential to plan for long-term expenses by constructing durable and energy-efficient fire and EMS stations.

An excellent reference for fire and EMS station architecture and construction is the 2018 report by the U.S. Fire Administration and the International Fire Service Training Association at Oklahoma State University, which outlines health and safety and considerations for the design of fire and EMS stations.

Protecting Fire and EMS Stations from National Disasters

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The 2018 international building code (IBC) identifies fire and EMS stations as essential facilities; therefore, disaster-resistant design is crucial to the safety of the emergency response personnel and the community that depends on them. Natural disasters include earthquakes, high winds, flooding, and fire.

Constructing an Earthquake-Resistant Public Safety Building

Earthquake-resistant fire and EMS stations built with insulated concrete form (ICF) produce shear walls that extend the total height and all sides of the structure. ICF shear walls, like those constructed with Fox Blocks, are anchored to the foundation with steel reinforcing bars. When an earthquake happens, this design effectively resists sideways (lateral) in-plane loads that force the top of the wall one way while the bottom of the wall stays stationary or is pushed in the opposite direction (racking the wall).

Building Fire-Resistance Public Safety Buildings with Fox Block ICFs

An ICF wall system contributes towards passive fire protection within the walls of a public safety building. Passive fire protection restricts the spread of smoke and fire and can lessen the danger to the emergency responders and the damage to the building. Passive design is also crucial to protecting the structural elements and stopping the collapse of a fire or EMS station during a fire emergency.

Fox Blocks ICFs provide superior passive firewall protection. The 6-inch Fox Blocks achieve an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour specification), an ASTM E84 value for flame speed less than 25, and smoke development less than 450.

Fox Blocks Create Wind-Resistant EMS and Fire Stations

A fire or EMS station built with ICF walls protects the building and the first responders from high winds during severe wind events like a hurricane or tornado. An ideal choice for wind-resistant wall construction is Fox Block ICFs.

  • Fire or EMS stations constructed with Fox Blocks maintain their integrity during severe winds of over 200 mph.
  • Fox Blocks withstand projectile debris traveling greater than 100 mph.

Designing a Flood-Resistant Fire and EMS Station with Fox Blocks ICF

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The site selection for fire or EMS station should avoid areas within the flood hazard zones. However, fire and EMS stations should still include materials that can get wet, and assemblies that quickly dry when exposed to moisture.

Fox Block ICFs for a fire or EMS stations ensure moisture that infiltrates the wall assemblies dries out and won’t migrate to nearby spaces. Fox Block create solid continuous monolithic concrete walls that are moisture-resistant and permeable (perm rating below 1.0). Fox Block reinforced concrete construction also does not degrade when wet and maintains its original shape and integrity when exposed to large amounts of water.

Building Healthy and Quiet EMS and Fire Stations with Fox Blocks

EMS and fire stations constructed with Fox Blocks are healthy and provide superb indoor environmental quality (IEQ) because they are quiet, air- and moisture-resistant, and lack volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

  • Fox Block ICF walls for EMS and fire station provide soundproofing between sleeping rooms and other areas of the station. Fox Block ICF has a high ASTM E90 Sound Transmission Classification (STC) rating of greater than 50 that ensures an exterior and interior wall assembly with high sound reduction.
  • Fox Blocks are healthy because they do not contain VOCs. VOCs are harmful because they can damage the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system, along with nose, eye, and throat irritations, and headaches and nausea.
  • Fox Blocks ICF EMS and fire stations are also healthy because they are air- and moisture-resistant, which is vital to stopping moisture accumulation in the wall assembly, which can lead to unhealthy mold.

Fox Blocks Installation is Fast and Easy

Fox Blocks ICF construction saves communities money during the building process because Fox Blocks are an all in one wall system, which makes installation easy and fast. Fox Blocks combine five steps into one, including attachment, structure, insulation, air barrier, and vapor retarder.

Fox Blocks Ensure Durable and Low-Maintenance Fire and EMS Stations

Fox Block ICF wall systems are durable and low-maintenance because they are moisture- and termite-resistant.

  • Fox Blocks’ solid continuous monolithic concrete wall manages moisture infiltration and stops the growth of mold, which can degrade a station’s integrity and lead to costly repairs.
  • Fox Blocks lack organic material, which makes them less susceptible to termites and the expensive repairs associated with termite damage.

Energy-Efficient EMS and Fire Stations with Fox Blocks

ICF construction lends towards a tight-building envelope and an energy-efficient public safety building. Essential components of an energy-efficient building are continuous insulation (CI), a high-performing air- and moisture barrier, and high thermal mass products. CI and an air- and moisture barrier stops thermal bridging, increases the effective R-value and prevents condensation. High thermal mass products absorb and store heat energy and stabilize temperature shifts within the structure by slowing down heat transfer.

Fox Blocks provide all these features and are a superb wall system for building an energy-efficient public safety building.

  • Fox Blocks high thermal mass ICFs has an R-value of 23+ that exceeds the requirements of the ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code.
  • A Fox Block wall is solid continuous monolithic concrete with two layers of continuous interior and exterior expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation. The concrete and EPS provide vapor and air barriers on both sides of the wall system, which stops moisture accumulation within the wall assembly.
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Construction of fire station 108, in Las Vegas, Nevada included the use of Fox Blocks ICF, which ensured it is safe, energy-efficient, durable, healthy and quiet structure. The quick and easy installation of Fox Blocks also saved the community and builders money and time during construction.

Fox Block ICF public safety buildings provide first responders a safe, healthy, and quiet environment. Fox Block public safety buildings also lower long-term and short-term expenses because they are energy-efficient, durable, low-maintenance, and fast to install.