Fast as the fire brigade – modern electric engineering


Residential fires, traffic accidents, floods… fire fighters are critical infrastructure. Therefore, they must meet special building requirements. This starts at the design stage. The local engineering company at Bach designed the sophisticated electrical and communication systems for the new construction of the fire station in Weißenfels an der Saale. Modern CAD systems are now indispensable for solving increasingly complex design tasks with high time pressure.

Text: Felix Berthold, M.A.

Since 1930, a gas and electrical station served as a quarter for the seventh largest fire brigade in Sachsen-Anhalt. 87 years later, the long-term provisional is now history: In February 2017 the emergency forces were able to move to the newly built fire station. There are eight fire trucks in the new vehicle hall. Because of shorter distances and the new hall, in which two vehicles no longer have to stand one behind the other, the fire and life guards can now move out more quickly. A two-storey, massive multifunctional building, which is directly adjacent to the hall, houses offices, training rooms, restrooms as well as engineering and sanitary facilities on an area of approximately 400m2.

The owner and bearer of the fire station is the city Weißenfels. City and country have invested a total of 3.9 million euros in the modern fire brigade center. After the foundation in December 2015, the new building had to be designed and constructed faster than originally planned. The subsidy of the country in the amount of 750.000 euros was bound to a building contract by the end of 2016 – a challenge for all stakeholders.

The engineering company Bach (IBB) was responsible for designing the high and low voltage systems with two distributions of 80A and 63A, as well as the complex telecommunication and data network facilities. IBB also supervised the complete construction process. The total budget for electrical engineering was 220.000 euros. With this project, the company won the prestigious German E-Planner 2016 award.

“I am actively involved in a voluntary fire service. There is a great deal of passion involved,” says Johannes Simon, who has studied electrical engineering with a focus on regenerative energy technology. IBB used DDS-CAD as their software of choice to engineer the complete project. The actual execution of the works was done by the company Weber & Weber GmbH from Schönburg.


Andreas Bach founded IBB in Weißenfels in 1993 and has been engineering since 1989. With five employees, IBB is currently designing 70% large scale projects for the food industry as well as residential and utility buildings. Early on, Bach recognized the advantages of an interdisciplinary design process and decided in 2001 for DDS-CAD. Bach recalls: “DDS was already able to design 3D cable paths at that time and brought the possibilities with it to carry out complex collision detection with heating, ventilation and sanitary systems.” He adds, “it was not as comfortable as today, but it worked.”

The electrical engineering for a fire stations is relatively demanding. In Weißenfels the time pressure was added. “In March 2016, we started engineering,” reports Simon. A big advantage when using DDS-CAD is the time saving. He could draw himself intuitively and did not have to hand over his designs to a technical draftsman. Bach adds: “Considerable improvements have been made over the last few years in, for example, dimensioning and the definition of opening elements, which is much more flexible and effective than it was 5 years ago. These type of improvements save us a lot of time.”

Modern building technology – modern design methods

What makes the fire brigade in Weißenfels special is the extensive integration of different technologies in a relatively small space, emphasizes Simon. These include fire-service-specific peripherals, for example, charging stations for fire-fighting vehicles, exhaust-gas extraction systems and the digital deployment plan. Simon says: “Nearly all areas of the cost group 440 have covered the high-voltage systems as well as the cost group 450 for telecommunication and data network systems.” Simon has designed the connection of an emergency power set on the premises, lightning protection technology including grounding, smoke control and heat extraction systems. Added to this were the house alarm, burglar alarm and satellite reception facilities. The exterior and interior areas are illuminated by energy-efficient LED technology. In view of these extensive electrotechnical requirements, the advantages of digital engineering with DDS-CAD are obvious. “Everything in one software and everything in one project”, Bach puts it to the point. The intelligent lighting control with presence detectors in the corridors and sanitary rooms also reduces energy consumption. A group battery system is used to supply the emergency lights for escape and rescue routes. Simon created the system schematics of the various electrical systems with a separate software for the fire brigade project, however, since DDS-CAD 12 these system schematics can be quickly generated with a mouse click. The engineer benefits: who still wants to change the descriptions of distribution boards manually if a thousand sockets are already assigned a circuit and group number? Modern CAD tools do this in just a few minutes.

If an alarm is triggered by the control center, the lighting in the indoor and outdoor areas of the hall must be switched on automatically for 15 minutes; which is demanded by the German DIN 14092-1 norm. In addition, instructions for firefighters must be provided via the electro-acoustic system (ELA), either live or from the band. This functionality is implemented by means of a logic controller from Siemens, which automatically controls lighting and ELA in the event of an alarm. “With a small PLC you are more flexible”, Simon explains.

More time for important things

More and more electrical engineers are under pressure. Bach notes: “We used to design the electrical systems in detail, but we do not have the time or personnel for it”. The modern and digital possibilities of DDS-CAD are therefore appreciated: “The automatisms make the design process much faster.” Complex projects like the Weißenfels fire brigade can be engineered in a short time cycle at the highest quality requirements.

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