Fire stations are the central point of contact for a fire department, serving as an administrative and operational headquarters. They are staffed by professional firefighters and support staff. They provide a range of services, including fire protection and safety education.
Stations are often located in high-density areas, as they are expected to respond quickly to emergencies. They may also be located near transit hubs, parks, schools and other facilities.
A typical fire station contains living and working space for the firefighters, as well as a training room, storage area, and equipment warehouse. The fire department is also a public facility that hosts community events and fundraising activities.
The location of a fire station is usually determined by city planning. Typically, there are four main types of fire stations: engines, ladder trucks, rescue companies and hazmat units. Engine companies are tasked with responding to fires, rescuing people trapped in vehicles or water or cliff rescue and other emergency calls.
These trucks are staffed by career firefighters and carry various fire fighting equipment, such as handlines, hoses and emergency medical supplies. There are 197 engine companies in the FDNY, divided into four divisions: Division I (City Center), Division II (Uptown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan), Division III (Brooklyn), and Division IV (Queens and Long Island).
It is important that a fire station be located close to where it is needed and at a distance that minimizes traffic disruption. Ideally, the site should be accessible to all emergency service vehicles such as ambulances and school buses.
One of the most significant challenges facing fire departments is reducing costs to operate. This is especially true in areas where property costs are high, and where taxes must be kept low.
Relocating fire houses* and acquiring new sites are often part of the budgetary process. Some cities even subsidize the cost of building new fire stations by selling the land where they are located.
In addition to these costs, fire stations also have to be designed with consideration for future growth and traffic patterns. This is particularly true for new residential developments, as the fire department will need to be able to get to them quickly in order to protect people from potential disasters.
A common trend in fire department design is to make streets and other infrastructure as safe as possible for the department’s vehicles. This can be done by focusing on road connectivity and design, as well as parking regulations that allow the trucks to have access to their assigned zones.
This can be accomplished by creating flat curbs to help fire trucks make sharp turns and by incorporating parking regulations that ensure fire truck space is available at all times.
Many municipal planners are consciously planning street and development layouts with emergency response in mind. This allows for more efficient traffic flow and helps to create a safer, healthier environment for the citizens of a town or city.
Ultimately, the location of a fire station is determined by city planning and must be approved by the planning commission. While some cities have ordinances that restrict the locations of fire stations, most do not. Regardless, fire stations are generally treated as public uses and may be placed in any district, provided the site is approved.