What Are Fire Stations?

A fire station is a building in which firefighters house their engines and gear while on duty. It may also serve as a base for fire prevention activities, and in some cases provide training facilities for firefighting and rescue operations. The term is most commonly applied to municipal fire departments, but it can also be used to describe military installations that support firefighting missions in the field. Fire stations are often staffed with personnel who may have a diverse range of experience and skill levels, from new recruits to veteran firefighters. They may be referred to as a company, battalion, platoon, or watch.

Firefighter jargon is often highly specific to a particular fire department, region or even individual shift. These terms are meant to convey the essence of a specific meaning, and should not be taken as a set of definitive rules. In addition, some of these words are idiosyncratic, and are more commonplace than most people might think.

Water drop: a fire fighting technique wherein an airplane or helicopter drops a supply of water or other fire suppressant onto a burning structure from above. This is usually employed when the fire is so widespread that it would not be safe for firefighters to enter a structure, or when it is too dangerous for them to do so without the aid of water streams.

Master box: a primary fire alarm relay panel that monitors the various fire alarm pull stations and detectors within a building, and relays any in-building alarm to the local municipal fire department. This type of system is often used in high-rise office and apartment buildings that are equipped with sprinkler systems or smoke and heat detectors. Master boxes are often accompanied by an Annunciator Panel which records, by indicator lights or other devices, exactly which pull stations and detectors have been activated.

Quick attack: a method of attacking a fire in which a firefighter uses a pre-connected hand line, pulled from a pumper upon arrival at an incident, and supplied with tank water, to begin extinguishing the fire before the rest of the operation is fully in place. This is typically employed when the fire is so extensive that it would not be safe for firefighters to risk entering the structure.

Class F (Europe/Australia) or class K fire: A fire involving flammable cooking and lubricating oils.

Mutual aid: A system of agreements between nearby fire companies to assist each other at incidents. This may include sharing manpower and apparatus, or it may be a more formal arrangement under the National Incident Management System.

Ready team: a team of firefighters awaiting an incident to respond to. They are trained to prepare their equipment quickly for an emergency, and they are usually assigned a specific task or location.

A variety of popular movies and television shows have centered around fire stations and the firefighters who operate them. The 2002 film Brotherhood of Fire revolves around the members of Engine 7/Ladder 1 in downtown Manhattan, and the popular Sesame Street video Elmo Visits the Firehouse revolves around a trip to Brooklyn Fire Station 258.

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