Fire stations (also referred to as fire halls, firemen’s halls, or firehouses) are structures or areas where fire engines and related vehicles, protective equipment, hoses, and other specialized equipment are stored. They are also used as living and work spaces for full-time career firefighters.
There are many different types of fire stations. Some are small, only storing vehicles and a few cubicles for the firefighting crew. Larger facilities may contain a vehicle maintenance bay and a variety of administrative spaces for training, meetings, and offices.
Another common feature of modern fire stations is a gym and fitness space for firefighters to use before and after shifts to maintain physical condition. In addition, there is often a library of reference materials and a “trophy wall” or case where the firefighter’s memorabilia are displayed.
Generally, the fire station is located in an area of the community where it serves or near a major roadway that leads into the service territory. This provides easy access for fire trucks, as well as reduces response time and distance to emergency sites.
One trend in fire stations involves incorporating fire services into city growth planning and designing streets and developments with emergency response in mind. Incorporating the fire department in this process is an effective way to promote healthy, safe growth for new residential and commercial development.
The fire station is an essential part of the public safety infrastructure. It serves the public by protecting them from dangerous fires, accidents, and disasters by providing fire protection, emergency medical treatment, and fire education to citizens. It is also a hub of activity for the local firefighting community and the city at large.
Fire departments across the country are focusing on firefighter quality of life as they strive to meet changing needs and increasing demands on their budgets. In order to do this, they are re-designing the traditional fire station to include additional space for administrative, training, and community activities.
In Kaukauna, Wisconsin, a 25,000-square-foot fire station was built with a combination of geothermal heating and cooling, solar PV panels, LED lighting, and other sustainable features. The result was an energy-efficient, durable design that saved the city $37,000 per year in utility costs alone.
Despite their often hectic schedules, firefighters are expected to spend time at the fire station on a regular basis for routine inspections, cleaning, and maintenance of their equipment and vehicles. This is necessary to ensure that they are in good physical condition and ready to respond quickly to any calls they receive.
Additionally, a substantial amount of time is spent on paperwork and documentation. Each day, firefighters are required to complete multiple reports and document each event they respond to. In addition, they must regularly test and inspect every fire hydrant and linear foot of hose for safety and functionality. This can add up to 2-6 hours per shift.