This week we went to the Berwick Fire Department in Berwick, NS. Right after turning off into the town of Berwick, a great red building appeared and welcomed us to town. Here we met up with Steve McMahon, Deputy Chief of the Berwick Fire Department. Steve gave us a tour of the building and as we went along, he pointed out the green features as well as the safety and security aspects of the building. The building is separated into 3 zones: the administrative offices, the apparatus hall and the community hall. First we toured through the apparatus hall, it is here where the fire trucks are parked and where the firefighting gear is located in organized lockers. Steve took us into the mechanical and electrical room where he showed and told us a little about the solar panels and the electric back up system. The backup system can turn on in about 6 seconds, this is important because they need the building to quickly bounce back in the case of a power outage, so they have power to be able to prepare and respond to calls. They also have a WEL Server which logs data and make it available online. Steve McMahon is also an electrician, so he put it together himself.
Next he took us to the administrative area. Along the way, we popped into a bathroom where he showed us the motion sensored faucets and lights. This way, no electricity and no water are wasted. In the administrative area, we were shown the offices, boardroom and the radio room for receiving incoming calls. In these rooms, there are motion sensors that detect the room’s occupancy, and turn on the appropriate system (air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter). This is an ideal system to use for a volunteer Fire House because all of the firefighters are at work during the daytime, so the building is only really occupied when they get a call or if there is an event in the community hall. When no one is in a room, the room will stay at its natural temperature. This way, the building doesn’t need to be constantly heated or cooled, which requires lots of energy.
Then Steve took us to the community hall and fully functioning commercial kitchen. It is rented out for events such as weddings, workshops and town meetings. Their heat recovery ventilator (HRV) system is located in a storage room in the community hall area.
Lastly, we went outside and Steve showed us the wall of solar panels. There are 34 large flat plate collectors that supply the heat for hot water needs and 3 small photovoltaic panels to power the electrical needs of the solar system. We were also shown the retention pond in the back of the building. It stores storm water runoff for the fire trucks to use, as the Town of Berwick does not have a municipal water system.
We also travelled to Middleton, NS this week to do a profile on the Pilikan Initiative at the Nova Scotia Community College. There we found two other NSYCC crew members, Cora MacDonald & Matt MacDougall, hard at work documenting the construction process. They were an excellent source of information about the project, and provided us with lots of pictures we can use to create an audio tour. They had pictures taken during every step of the process since construction began. We also had a chance to film a short video interview with Dennis Kingston who is the Academic Chair at the campus. The Pilikan house will be used as a demonstration home to the community as well as a research lab for students and staff. The house has the appearance of a standard home but the walls, windows, roof, and floor are all engineered to prevent heat loss. This allows the house to be more energy efficient while still using standard heating equipment.