Fire Stations

Fire stations, also known as firehouses or fire halls, are the home bases of fire departments and their equipment. They typically contain living quarters for the firefighters, a garage for the fire engine, office space, and a case or trophy wall where firefighters display memorabilia. They may also have a training room, library of reference materials, and an emergency operations center. Fire stations may be manned full-time by a crew of firemen, or part time by retained firefighters.

Firefighters are usually called to an emergency by sirens or radio, and arrive at the fire station from their home or work. They may then be assigned to a fire truck and sent out on an assignment. In larger cities, some fire stations have multiple engines and other pieces of apparatus. They are often numbered and named for the company and/or equipment housed there, or given names related to the settlement or neighborhood they serve.

The Menomonie Fire Station is a classic brick structure in downtown Menomonie, Wisconsin. It embodies the town’s tradition of service and safety, and houses state-of-the-art equipment.

Originally this fire station had living quarters for two firefighters, and was remodeled in the spring of 2003 to increase capacity. Now, it is able to accommodate up to six firefighters in its two-bay garage.

It’s common to find old fire stations with the living quarters above the garage, as this arrangement was ideal for a busy city. The living quarters were reached by a ladder from the fire engine, and the firefighters lowered down to the garage using a specially designed device called a “fireman’s pole.” Often, a fireman’s pole could be retracted so the firefighters would not be trapped in the event of an emergency.

Most modern fire stations are built with the living quarters and garage on the same level. This saves space and reduces the risk of firefighters having to descend from high up, which could be a dangerous hazard.

In large cities, most fire stations have a number of fire trucks in their garages. Each firetruck is staffed with an engineer, driver, and pump operator. The engineers are in charge of the vehicle and its equipment, while the drivers drive the firetruck to and from emergencies. The pump operators help the engineers control the fire and water flow.

Some of the terminology used in a fire station can be confusing for people not familiar with the firefighting industry. The following definitions will be helpful for understanding fire station vocabulary:

Company: A group of firefighters organized into a team and led by a fire officer of the rank of lieutenant or captain. Companies may work on different shifts, and are commonly grouped into platoons of equal rank.

Well involved: A term used to indicate a structure fire in which the flames, heat, and smoke are so widespread that interior access is not possible until it can be contained.

Occupant use hose: A light-weight 1 1/2″ diameter firehose pre-coupled to a standpipe, for emergency usage by building occupants prior to the arrival of firefighters.

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