Fire stations are facilities where fire fighting vehicles and equipment are stored, maintained and used by firefighters. They are also where fire fighters live and eat during their shift. They may be manned by career or volunteer firefighters, and many are staffed with emergency medical personnel who provide basic life support and transport patients to hospitals. Fire stations vary in design, but typically they contain living quarters and a garage for the fire fighting vehicle(s). There is often a parking area to accommodate vehicles when they are not being used. Fire stations are named for the fire company or apparatus they house, or in some cities based on the district, neighborhood, town or village that they serve.
A fire station’s living quarters are generally located above the garage. This arrangement arose from the use of the fireman’s pole, a long ladder that allows a firefighter to quickly descend to the garage in case of an emergency call. Many older fire stations have this layout, but it is less common in modern buildings.
Typical features of a fire station include an apparatus bay (or bays), administrative and training areas, living space and kitchens. The firefighting vehicle is stored in the apparatus bay, with the equipment and supplies needed to fight a fire or respond to an emergency in storage at the station. The administrative and training areas contain offices, dispatch spaces, and other amenities to support the daily operations of a fire department.
The living spaces for full-time career firefighters include dormitories and a kitchen. The kitchen is where the firefighters cook their meals and usually has a separate area for food prep. It is also where the firefighters sleep during their shift. Typical sleeping arrangements are bunk beds, but some departments are installing wall-beds (also known as Murphy beds) that are folded up against the wall when not in use.
Some fire stations have additional accommodations for part-time volunteer firefighters and paramedics, or for special response units, such as hazmat teams. These rooms usually have a kitchen and living space, but do not contain a bunk bed. Some also feature a separate laundry room.
Most fire stations have a living area and sleeping rooms for the firefighters on their assigned shifts. The sleeping room is the place where they will spend most of their time during their shift, so it needs to be comfortable and well-appointed. Typical amenities include televisions, stereos and music systems, air conditioning, internet access, a refrigerator and microwave. Some of the more modern stations have ergonomically designed furniture, such as desks that can incline to allow for more comfort while sitting or sleeping.
In some fire departments, the living space includes a library of reference materials and a “trophy wall” or case to display awards and other memorabilia. Some fire stations are also adapted for community events, such as pancake breakfasts by local firemen’s associations or fire buffs. Others host activities during fire prevention week or pass out candy on Halloween.