Remaining a visible and relevant fire service

Fire departments need to value community involvement, education and community paramedicine, over a low profile

I travel more than most, and usually like to visit a fire station near where I am staying to talk shop and learn a bit more about the local area. But on one of my most recent trips, I honestly had a hard time finding the closest fire station in a fairly affluent part of the country. There were certainly no issues finding a golf course – in fact, the area where I was staying probably had three or four within a two-mile radius of my hotel – but finding the local fire station was a different matter.

As I traveled down the six-lane highway that traversed most of this major city, I saw no indication of the fire department’s presence. Traveling on a smaller four-lane cross street, I finally spotted a yellow diamond universal traffic sign with the image of a fire truck, signifying that a station had to be near.

While I slowed and looked both up and down the side street, I still couldn’t find the station – even when I looked for other signs, such as a flag pole or caution lights that might reveal its location. I knew this city had career firefighter/paramedics so it made this quest even more puzzling. Finally, I spotted a fire truck at a shopping center grocery store, and stopped to introduce myself and ask where the station might be, and if I could stop in to visit.

It turned out that I’d passed the non-descript building that served as the nearest fire station several times, thinking it was a small service garage. Nothing visibly identified it as the fire department amidst the gaggle of retail businesses that lined the main thoroughfare or the gated communities along the side streets.

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