Fire Stations

A fire station (also known as a firehouse, fire hall, firemen’s hall or engine house) is a structure or area for storing firefighting apparatuses such as fire engines and related vehicles, personal protective equipment, fire hoses and other specialized equipment. Fire stations frequently contain working and living space for the firefighters and support staff.

Most municipal fire departments have one or more fire stations. They may also have a central dispatch center, which is the primary point for receiving emergency calls from the public, as well as fire trucks and other vehicles. Fire station buildings are usually located near the call locations they serve, and may also be used for other purposes, such as community events or training.

Some fire stations are named for the fire company or apparatus that is housed there, such as Engine 18, or for the district, neighborhood, village or town in which it is located, such as Goleta Fire Station. Fire districts are generally numbered and names after geographic features within the jurisdiction of the fire department, such as the Diamond Springs Fire District. In some cities, fire stations are also named after the numbered fire trucks and vehicles they house, such as Ladder 49.

A typical fire station has administrative areas such as standard offices, conference rooms and training facilities. Vehicle maintenance bays are typically included in the building, and these are equipped with heavy-duty lifts and all utility connections required for large vehicle maintenance. Some fire stations also have a dedicated training room that is staffed by a certified firefighter instructor to provide training for firefighters and to handle other safety-related issues.

Most fire stations are manned by an officer in charge, known as a chief engineer or captain. In addition to these officers, a fire station is normally staffed with firefighters (engine companies), ladder companies, rescue companies, squad companies, and hazardous materials companies. The number of firefighters on a shift varies depending on the type of call; usually four to five firefighters for engine companies, six for ladder and rescue companies, and nine to eleven for hazardous materials companies.

In addition to firefighting apparatus, a typical fire station is equipped with an ambulance. FDNY ambulances are operated by emergency medical technicians (EMTs), who are licensed paramedics, and are staffed with a mix of basic and advanced life support personnel. Occasionally, volunteer fire department companies that are not part of the FDNY will operate their own ambulances in rural areas.

Most fire stations are open to the public for tours, though they must be restricted from certain areas because of security, safety and training requirements. Tours are usually conducted by the fire department’s training and education division, and they may be offered to civic groups, schools, business organizations or other organized groups. Some individual firefighters will also offer fire station tours to the public when they are not on duty. Fire station tours are normally limited to a maximum of 20 people for the safety of all visitors.

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