Public safety and emergency operations centers must be ready to serve at a moment’s notice, requiring the building to remain in a response-ready state. During engineering and construction of the Prince George’s County Emergency Command Center, KCI and the design-build team faced a number of technical challenges related to the building’s operational requirements. Unique features of this particular complex include:
Several of the departments housed in the building do not interact with one another, necessitating separate entrances and stairwells, while others share common rooms required for 24/7 operations including a small kitchen, showers and a quiet room.
Public Access and Media
A very integrated set of meeting and reception spaces provide public access within the lobby area. Remote pedestal connections and underground cabling from the press room to the parking lot can support news vans during press conferences and broadcasts.
Certain emergency situations may require the public safety complex to operate around the clock for extended periods of time. To ensure that level of service, duplication of critical components and functions are built into the design. Heating, cooling, power, life safety and telecommunications systems incorporate varying levels of redundancy in order to maintain uninterrupted service.
While the mixed-use facility will ordinarily be only half-full, the building systems required careful consideration to support high occupancy rates and equipment loads during an active public emergency. HVAC, power, telecommunications, and other systemic needs were calculated under both scenarios in order to balance equipment size, redundancy and the ability to quickly increase service.
We wanted to design to a reasonable level of redundancy. The critical component was working with the owner and stakeholders to establish what that means.
Matthew E. Hulcher, PEPractice Leader, Fire Protection Engineer
Components were sized for the largest demand and then modularized to support day-to-day and expanded operations, with a goal of avoiding oversized, underutilized equipment that ultimately increases life cycle costs.