Fire Stations

fire stations

Fire stations, also known as fire halls or fire houses, are the facilities where a fire department’s personnel work and store equipment. The buildings vary in size and design. Some are modern, and some are historic, including those that were once the headquarters of volunteer fire companies. This article covers both types of fire station, but does not cover specialty fire department buildings such as fire alarm headquarters or water supply pumps; for those, see List of fire department specialty buildings.

Fire station staffing includes a company officer (usually a lieutenant or captain) and firefighters, usually organized as an engine company, a ladder company, a pumper company or a combination fire truck company. The company officers typically supervise the crews that drive and operate the vehicles, while the firefighters are often assigned to specific jobs, such as driving, pumping, hoselaying, or search and rescue. The company officers also have the authority to deploy resources in the field and call for additional help from the firehouse if necessary.

The fire house is home to the fire department’s administrative offices and other support staff, as well as the apparatus garage, where fire trucks are maintained. In many cases, a fire station may have an area that is dedicated to training and drills. Some fire departments use a “simulator” for this purpose, which simulates a building or other structure so that firefighters can practice their skills.

A typical fire station has a wide, often brick parking lot and several vehicles in the garage, including a fire engine, a ladder truck, a rescue vehicle and possibly a helicopter. The garage also houses the firehouse’s fireman’s pole, a ladder used to ascend and descend from the roof of the building. The pole is usually decorated with a city’s official emblem or the insignia of the fire department, as shown here.

The building itself is usually large enough to house a command center, where fire chiefs and other officials meet and direct operations. Some fire departments have an additional facility where they perform pre-incident planning and inspections.

Fire stations have a number of other features, such as a cockloft, a storage area for firefighting tools and supplies, and a hydrant pad, where firefighters can hook up their hoses to water. The narrow towers rising above many fire stations are hose towers, which help the crews clean and dry their hoses. Many fire stations have bell or clock towers, as well.

A typical fire station is staffed by a battalion chief, a firefighter, a fire engineer and three to four firefighters, each with specialized heavy extrication equipment. In addition to the firefighters, a fire station may have a medic and a paramedic. The staffing and equipment at a particular station is determined by the geographic coverage of its service area, its response times, the needs of local businesses and residents, and other factors.

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