NEW ALARM HEADQUARTERS, BOSTON
Structure Isolated in Park-Last Word in Fire Alarm Station Design-It Combines Safety with Beauty and General Utility
AFTER months of preliminary planning and consultations between Mayor James M. Curley, of Boston, Mass., and officials of the Boston fire department and of the park and recreations department a design has at last been selected for the new central fire alarm telegraph headquarters in The Fenway, which is satisfactory to all concerned.
The problem of combining beauty and utility in a municipal structure to be erected in the heart of the picturesque Fenway has been solved by the firm of O’Connell & Shaw, Boston architects, who were selected by the mayor to draw the final plans. The drawings show a magnificent building but so well arranged that it will be eminently practical as well as architecturally beautiful. The cost will be approximately $300,000 and the signalling apparatus which is being manufactured by the Gamewell Company, of Newton Upper Falls, Mass., will cost more than $200,000.
In selecting a new location the main consideration was to obtain a piece of land that would provide greater security for the delicate apparatus from damage by fire and where there was no conflagration hazard. It was also necessary to secure a central geographical position. To obtain such a location was found to be impossible without an invasion of the park system. Special permission from the state legislature had to be secured for the construction of a building in the parkway and at first there was considerable opposition to the plan. A serious fire in the wood working plant directly opposite the headquarters on Bristol Street served to emphasize the danger of the old location and the plans went forward for the new building. A site in the Fenway on the axis of Westland Avenue was chosen by Mayor Curley and met with the hearty approval of Fire Commissioner Theodore A. Glynn and Chief John O. Taber. The legislature held a hearing on the matter and granted the necessary permission.
A location such as this presented to the administration a challenge to recognize and execute in the proposed structure a building not only harmonious with but complementary to its unusual setting. The first plans calling for a colonial type building were later abandoned and a more monumental structure decided upon.
O’Connell & Shaw, the architects, have furnished the following description of the new building:
The entrance lobby is to be treated simply in limestone with marble tile floor and beamed and coffered ceiling. It is the only portion of the building to which the public will be admitted and will be treated so that it may display the historical and photographic records of the development. It is also proposed to locate here the historical ceramic tiles obtained from the ruins of the Broad Street Railroad Station Fire in Philadelphia, Pa., which were recently presented to the city.
From the lobby lead the commissioner’s office, the central operating room, and the corridor to the offices and men’s quarters. The central operating room, the heart of the structure. is fifty feet wide and eighty feet long and contains the apparatus on which is received and transmitted the alarms turned in from any box within the city precincts. Here also will be located the radio equipment and apparatus connecting with adjacent cities and towns. The room is 28 feet high, treated to the height of 15 feet, just above the top of the operating boards, with Gustavino acoustical masonry. Above this height the windows occur on all four sides of the room supplemented by skylights in the three central panels of the paneled ceiling. The acoustics of the room have been thoroughly studied so that no echo can result. Hence the danger of confusion in reception of alarms is reduced to an absolute minimum.
Surrounding the central operating room on three sides of the building are located the rooms for superintendents, drafting, locker room, dormitory, and mess hall for the operators. Throughout the offices and central rooms the floors arc of naturized rubber which has been found by investigation to afford the most satisfactory surfacing for such a building. The greater portion of the basement underneath the operating room and rear offices is occupied as the location for the battery racks. This room isi specially treated with enamel brick walls and acid proof mastic flooring. It is well lighted with large windows front and rear and artificially ventilated to carry off any fumes or gases.
The cable room adjacent to the battery room is the point of entrance for all conduits and is balanced on the opposite side by the generator room containing the necessary equipment for operation of the entire service independently in the event of failure of any of the present agencies to function. The heating and ventilating equipment for the building is located here as well. The boilers will be oil burning, employing light oil to reduce the nuisance of smoke and odor. Storage is provided for the superintendent’s automobile thus eliminating any delay which might be experienced when he is needed to respond to alarms or emergency calls. Here also are situated the repair and supply rooms.
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Boston’s New Alarm Headquarters
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The building will be of fire resistive construction throughout with metal windows, doors, and trim. The exterior will be of Indiana limestone variegated in color. The design is of Italian Renaissance derivation.
Construction and installation of equipment will be under general direction of Superintendent of Fire Alarms George L. Fickett and Asst. Supt. Richard Donahue. The contracts for the plumbing, heating, and ventillating systems for the new building have been awarded to James S. Cassedy & Co., of Cambridge, Mass., who were the lowest bidders. The plumbing will cost $5,153 and the heating and ventillating $18,850.
The original appropriation of $500,000 for building and equipment has been increased to $650,000 by vote of the Boston City Council.