Fire Stations

A fire station is a structure that houses the apparatus and equipment of a fire department and may also include living quarters for firefighters. It may be called a firehouse, fire hall, or fire barn. Fire stations typically serve one or more fire districts. A few have training facilities and other amenities for the public. Fire station design varies, but the goal is to provide safe, comfortable accommodations for firefighters on-duty and in-training.

Firefighting is a hazardous job and requires many skills and abilities. Some of these skills include firefighting, rescue, emergency medical care and administrative duties. Fire stations are designed to meet the needs of firefighters in terms of training, maintenance and living quarters. They should be located in areas with adequate space for emergency response and close to other emergency services such as hospitals and police departments.

In addition to the firehouse, a fire department often includes:

Company: A team of firefighters organized and led by a fire officer to perform operational functions. Company officers are usually lieutenants or captains. Generally, the firefighters in a company work on different shifts and live at separate firehouses. Occasionally, all of the firefighters in a company work on the same shift and live at the same firehouse. A company is the equivalent of a platoon in the military or a squad in the police force.

Dispatch: The initial process of determining which company, or combination of companies, is required to respond to a reported emergency call. This is accomplished by using a system of box numbers and corresponding notecards to represent an incident type. For example, a building report might be assigned the number “6.” The notecard in box 6 would list the apparatus and personnel required to arrive at that scene. Boxes are used to help eliminate confusion and ensure that the right people are dispatched on the first alarm.

Fire hydrant: A device that supplies water to the firefighting crews at a scene, either by pumping or by gravity. A typical fire hydrant has a 3” female coupling for connection of the firefighting hose line. Fire hydrants are normally installed in locations within easy reach of a firefighting crew, as they are needed to extend the reach of hand lines and other water-delivering equipment.

Hose pack: A backpack containing fire hose in preconfigured arrangement. Sometimes, a hose pack has a gated wye at the end that allows the connecting of two hand lines. This enables the firefighters to begin attacking the fire without waiting for the mainline to be laid and the fire to be charged.

Primary search: A search of a burning structure done as soon as the ladder truck or other service arrives on scene to look for individuals who may have been trapped by the fire.

Pre-fire planning: Fire protection strategy involving inspections of hazardous occupancies and determining the equipment, supplies, personnel and skills required to deal with those hazards. Also known as fire prevention planning and preincident planning.

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