Whether a station is in a high end community with fleets of vehicles or in a simple garage with one apparatus, the fire station is a great source of pride for the firemen who work there. Most fire houses reflect the age and condition of the community in which they serve. They usually blend in with the character of the neighborhood. Some fire houses are well equipped with fancy edifices and plenty of space for training, recreation and social activities. Other fire houses are very basic with just what is necessary to do the job. Most fire houses have a room for social quarters and an alert service to receive alarms.
Many Fire Houses have become considered by the National Register to be historic places (like the one above – Firehouse 1 – Roanoke). These stations were built in the 1800 and 1900’s along the East coast of the United States. Most of these stations are located in the center of cities and are very large in scale. Some of the older and non-renovated stations still have the stalls for the horses that use to be a part of the crew. Today some of these stations are museums while others are still in use or are being used for various other purposes.
Now many fire departments have been moved from the center of cities and are on the edge of town with quick access to highways and major roads. Also many larger cities have multiple stations to ensure rapid responses.
A recent study of Seattle-area firehouses by University of Washington researchers found that the stubborn MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to severe infections, can be transmitted by fire station personnel. MRSA is associated with approximately 19,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because fire personnel interact with both hospitals and the population in general, the MRSA bacteria can be carried between the two.
The study, published in the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, indicates that the MRSA bacteria is found most “in the medic trucks, kitchens, and other areas such as computer keyboards and computer desks.” Medic trucks were the most common area.
Researchers aimed to determine whether the MRSA strains were related to hospital or community strains. Their conclusion: both types can contaminate fire station surfaces.
As a result of this study, the Emergency Management and Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center has provided a list of recommendations to protect responding personnel from a potentially serious or life-threatening infection.
What to Do:
- Utilize cleaning agents correctly.
- Filter air in stations.
- Confine turnout gear to work areas.
- Reduce the risk of carrying MRSA home by leaving station wear at the station and wash after use.
- Install disinfectant hand gel dispensers at key points between bays and the station. Or install sinks in apparatus bays.
- Have 9-1-1 dispatchers ask if anyone has flu-like symptoms, then wear masks, goggles and gloves when entering a home.
- Replace cloth surfaces with hard surfaces wherever possible.
- Do not share hand towels.
For a complete list of suggestions: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/infograms/23_11.pdf
The brave men and women who serve in the fire departments throughout this country are committed to answering the call to duty. These dedicated professionals are trained to fight fires that might otherwise spread rapidly, endangering both lives and property. Since our country’s earliest days, people and governments have placed a high priority on fire protection. Today these numbers tell the story of fire departments throughout the United States. The U.S. Fire Administration posts updated figures about every two years.
30,170: The estimated number of fire departments in the U.S. in 2008.
52,400: The estimated number of fire stations in the United States during the period from 2006 to 2008.
22: The number of seconds that represents how often a fire department responds to a fire in the United States.
14: The percentage of fire departments in the U.S. that consist of career or mostly career firefighters.
61: The percentage of the U.S. population protected by fire departments that consist of career or mostly career firefighters.
86: The percentage of fire departments in the U.S. that consist of volunteer or mostly volunteer firefighters.
39: The percentage of the U.S. population protected by fire departments that consist of career or mostly career firefighters.
68,200: The estimated number of fire pumpers in the United States.
6,725: The estimated number of aerial fire apparatus in the U.S.
There are more than 200 fire museums in the U.S. and Canada.
Firefighting has a rich historical background that is documented in the numerous firefighting museums located throughout this country and Canada. Years ago, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) recognized the need to link these institutions, which vary greatly in their makeup, primarily as a method for exchanging ideas. In 1989, the IAFC sponsored a fire museum seminar which took place during the Fire-Rescue International Conference. Representatives from nine fire museums attended, and they decided to make the seminar an annual event. Still, many of the museums wanted even more interaction, something they could rely on throughout the year. They formed a committee to research the possibility of developing an organization of fire museums, and in 1995, the Fire Museum Network was established.
Today the Fire Museum Network is a non-profit organization that allows for networking among the various fire museums, while also promoting the interests of collecting, preserving and interpreting the artifacts, history and traditions of the fire service. It is run by a volunteer board of directors. In addition to the annual Fire Museum Seminar, the organization maintains a comprehensive Web site with a directory of fire museums that belong to the network. This information can be accessed at www.firemuseumnetwork.org.
For years, Dalmatians have been closely associated with firehouses, but why? The answer is really quite simple—if you’re willing to go back in history about 600 years or so. The Dalmatian, named after the Adriatic coastal region of Dalmatia, is an extremely physical breed that can run great distances without tiring. So, during the time when horse and carriage was the primary method of transportation, Dalmatians were the perfect coach dogs. They were trained to run alongside a woman’s carriage, part for protection and part as a companion to the horses. As time evolved, the dogs were used to protect the horses that pulled English stagecoaches, chasing away other dogs that tried to scare the horses. It was not uncommon to see two Dalmatians running next to the horses as they pulled a coach, and soon a close bond formed between dog and horse.
When horse-drawn fire apparatus came into being, it seemed like a natural fit to couple the dogs with the horses that pulled the apparatus. The horses, which had to spend long periods of time at the scene of a fire—and even longer intervals waiting to be called into action—got antsy. Their close companion, the Dalmatian, helped to calm them. The dogs were also used to guard the fire apparatus while the firefighters tended to the fire. Soon it was commonplace to keep a Dalmatian at the firehouse to serve as a companion to both the firefighters and the horses.
Long after the horse-drawn fire apparatus were retired, the Dalmatian remained in many firehouses throughout the United States, Canada and England, serving as a constant, loyal companion to the firefighters and a symbol of fire service throughout the years.