What Is a Fire Station?

A fire station (also known as a firehouse, fire hall, or firemen’s hall) is a building where a local fire department stores its vehicles and equipment for response to calls. Many contain living and working space for the firefighters and support staff. Fire stations may also house a fire training center where the firefighters practice their skills in controlled environments and hold drills to enhance their abilities. Fire departments are governed by laws and policies to ensure the safety of their employees and members of the public, and fire stations play an important role in maintaining this standard.

A typical fire station will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with firefighters and support staff. During non-emergency times, the fire station will be used for maintenance, cleaning and training. Some will host activities for the public, such as a “fire prevention week” or fund-raising events held by the “firemen’s association”, “fire buffs” or “fire auxiliary”.

During an emergency call, dispatchers at the fire alarm central office will dispatch appropriate fire apparatus and crews from their locations. They will use a system of boxes numbered by geographical area or incident type – for example, a structure fire will be tagged with the box number 6, which contains a notecard indicating the planned response for that type of event. This allows the fire department to be quickly and accurately deployed to the scene of the emergency, thus minimizing delay in response time.

An important safety precaution in the process of responding to a call is the use of the “two-in, two-out” protocol. This requires at least two firefighters to enter a hazardous area, while another team of two stand by outside in case the first pair becomes incapacitated or is otherwise compromised. This also helps to prevent accidental exposure to hazardous materials, which is a major cause of injury or death for firefighting personnel.

The firefighting apparatus, which includes ladders, is stored in a specialized area called a “hose bed”, usually located on the ground floor of the fire station. In some stations, there will be a wet riser, which is a pipe in the ceiling of the building filled with water, into which hoses can be connected to provide water to combat a fire.

Some fire stations will also have an engine company, which is a group of firefighters whose duties include driving the fire truck to the scene of an emergency. These units are usually manned by a captain and a lieutenant, and may be divided into platoons so that one of the companies’ ranks will be on duty at any given moment.

Fire stations have to be built with functionality and hyper efficiency in mind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. Some of the world’s top architects have designed spectacular fire stations, from a design carved into the side of a mountain to an icon of American postmodern architecture. Take a look at 12 of the most stunning fire stations ever constructed below.

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