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Saving Energy and Money at 24/7 Fire Stations

June 28, 2010 - 11:11am


Coal Creek Fire and Rescue's fire station in New Richmond, Ind. where a new furnace and air conditioner will save energy and money. | Photo courtesy of New Richmond

Coal Creek Fire and Rescue's fire station in New Richmond, Ind. where a new furnace and air conditioner will save energy and money. | Photo courtesy of New Richmond

"The fire station is a building that is in use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so naturally it consumes a significant amount of energy," says Molly Whitehead, grants specialist for the Indiana Office of Energy Development.


Given constant use and the importance of fire stations to surrounding communities, the Indiana Office of Energy Development awarded funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to improve energy efficiency at some local fire stations.

In Coal Creek Township, Coal Creek Fire and Rescue received $27,000 from EECBG funding to install a new furnace and air conditioner at their New Richmond, Ind. fire station. The grant will also pay to better insulate the department.

The town of Bainbridge will use $3,800 of its $54,000 EECBG to replace all T-12 fluorescent lighting fixtures in the Bainbridge Volunteer Fire Department building with more efficient T-8 fixtures.

For both fire stations, the modifications will save energy and money.

For the public good

Coal Creek Fire and Rescue, a non-profit volunteer fire department, will replace two five-ton heating and cooling units that sit outside the New Richmond station with attic-installed high efficiency furnaces and condenser units. Because the existing furnaces are configured to a "Y" duct system that was designed for a single heating and cooling unit, the two units typically "fight" each other when used at the same time -- thus losing efficiency.

"The system we have in place now has never been fully efficient," says Dale Jones, President of the Board of Directors for Coal Creek Fire and Rescue. "When we turned on the heat for one furnace, part of the heated air was returned by the ducting to the furnace that wasn’t in use."

According to Whitehead, the new installations, along with modifications to the existing ductwork in the building, are expected to save the fire department $2,300 per year and 2700 kWh per year. The project will begin in August with the energy efficient modifications to be completed by the winter.


Jones says the new furnace and air conditioner will allow firefighters at the fire station to better serve the public. While the fire station is only six years old, finding money to pay all the costs is often difficult.

 "The grant has a big impact because it helps us free up resources for safety, equipment and gear at the station," says Jones. "We are a public service, so something like this goes right back to the people."

In Bainbridge, the fire station was originally constructed ten years ago, when there were no energy efficient lighting options available.

"This will be the first upgrade for the building," says Hartman. "We expect the upgrades to begin in the next few weeks and be completed by the end of summer."

Town clerk and treasurer Jason Hartman says the new T-8 lighting fixtures in the volunteer fire department are predicted to save $300 annually on electricity bills. The town expects a 13 to 15 year "return on investment" after conducting a recent energy audit, indicating $3,900 to $4,500 in possible long-term savings.

"The $300 annual savings may not seem like a lot to most people, but to a small rural fire department that operates solely with volunteers and relies on donations, this amount does make a difference in its ability to continue operations," says Hartman.