A fire station (also known as a fire hall, firemen’s hall, firehouse or engine house) is a structure or area for storing firefighting apparatuses such as fire engines and related vehicles, personal protective equipment, fire hoses and other specialized equipment. It frequently contains working and living space for firefighters and support staff.
Firefighters from a fire station are called to a call in many ways, depending on the emergency. Typically, civilians dial 9-1-1 to report a fire, and then the fire department dispatchers determine the appropriate response unit. Alternatively, people may dial 0 to speak with the FDNY EMS communications office directly, or they can use one of the other three numbers published in each borough.
The FDNY is not only responsible for responding to fires, but it also responds to emergencies such as medical incidents, hazardous materials incidents and disasters. The FDNY also has an important role in protecting the city’s infrastructure including buildings, bridges, tunnels, highways, parks, public transit systems and other large structures.
Each of the five boroughs in New York City has a dedicated fire department with its own firehouse. The FDNY’s firehouses are organized into battalions, with each having one to three fire companies. Each fire company is commanded by an officer, usually a lieutenant or captain. The company has between 12 and 20 firefighters who are staffed for night or day tours on a rotating basis.
Generally, most fire stations have a brush fire unit, which is a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle with specialized firefighting gear and other items to assist in fighting brush fires in hilly or remote areas. Some have a water rescue unit, which is equipped with specialized tools and equipment to help in flood and marine rescues. Other units include fire boats and fireboat engines, which are used in the water or on rivers, and Haz-Mat teams.
Most of the FDNY’s calls are for emergency medical services, such as ambulance transport or medical assistance to sick and injured persons. The FDNY operates more than 400 EMS units, and EMTs work side by side with firefighters at all scenes of emergencies. The FDNY has two disasters operations centers that are located at fire stations, where staffers handle coordination and logistical issues with state agencies and other departments involved in large-scale events such as natural or man-made disasters.
Ideally, fire departments want their stations to be strategically placed in order to reach the most people quickly, which means they should be close to schools, homes, commercial areas and businesses. In addition, each station should be positioned in an area where the crews can meet the city’s goal of getting on scene within four minutes 80 percent of the time. For example, when the fire department built Fire Station 8 in Scottsdale, it was strategically positioned to serve the Shea corridor with its high-rise apartments, schools and other densely populated residential communities. The station was designed and constructed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, which is the highest level of recognition for green building practices.