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5 storage must-haves for a safer fire station

Keep critical gear and equipment stored properly to increase safety and prolong the life of your PPE and tools

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Today’s firefighters need storage space that allows gear to properly dry after washing. (image/GearGrid)

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By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus

The apparatus bay area for a fire station can often be a chaotic and cluttered environment – and that’s before a call comes in! Turnout gear piled next to apparatus waiting for a response or hanging from any available hook or space to dry after a call or after cleaning ... SCBA cylinders sitting in a corner waiting for refilling, repair or hydrostatic testing ... You get the picture.

Proper storage can make a big difference in the safety of your station, as well as protect your equipment and tools. Here are five storage options that can make for a safer and less cluttered fire station.

1. Gear Lockers

Proper facilities for firefighters to store their structural firefighting ensemble (aka turnout gear) in the fire station has taken on greater importance, driven by the need for firefighters to keep their gear clean and dry. Increasing awareness of the connection between firefighting and an increased risk of developing cancer makes it especially important to take steps, such as cleaning gear after every call, to reduce exposure to toxic materials and carcinogens encountered during structural firefighting.

Today’s firefighters need more than a nail or hook on a wall to hang their turnout gear. They need storage space that allows gear to properly dry after washing (if there’s not a turnout gear dryer available). They may also need storage space for books and training manuals, other protective equipment like EMS gloves, and lockable storage space to keep personal items secure while on duty.

Each fire station has a different footprint with differing amounts of floorspace for turnout gear lockers. Locker manufacturers offer a variety of locker options, such as wall-mounted, mobile or freestanding storage.

Once you decide upon the locker type that’s best for your station’s layout, talk with your fellow firefighters and look for a locker system that offers:

  • Proven heavy-duty materials, including locker coatings.
  • Durable shelving, hooks and hangers.
  • Options to easily customize shelf and hanger and hook placements in each locker.
  • Minimal maintenance and easy cleaning.

GearGrid custom builds its storage systems for each fire station and provides a free wall space calculator on its website to help you assess your needs.

2. Storage for hose and cylinders

After turnout gear storage, the next biggest storage need in most fire departments is the need to properly store fire hose and compressed storage cylinders (e.g., SCBA or medical gas cylinders).

Your crew can use a mobile cylinder cart to take filled SCBA cylinders out to the apparatus, replace depleted cylinders with fresh ones and take the depleted cylinders directly to the SCBA fill station, all in one round trip.

The same goes for your hoses – and some mobile storage solutions combine the two. For example, you can manage both with the Mini Mobile Hose & Cylinder System from GearGrid.

3. Mobile work stations

In many fire departments, there are one or two stations where personnel do more than the normal emergency response and training. It may be repairing and maintaining the department’s SCBA or doing minor repairs to fire apparatus (e.g., replacing light bulbs or reattaching a step with new bolts).

Wouldn’t those folks be able to do that work more effectively and efficiently if they had a mobile work station? Look for features like:

  • A heavy-duty work surface.
  • Safe and lockable storage space.
  • Easy access to tools and equipment.
  • Mobility for easy movement through halls and doorways so the workstation can be brought to where the work needs to be done.

4. Compartment storage on apparatus

When every second counts on the emergency scene, fast access to well-organized tools from compartments on the fire apparatus is critical. And with the increase in mission scope of many departments (EMS, hazmat, technical rescue) that compartment space is at a premium.

Look for a compartment organizing system that allows you to select the components you want and construct an organizer for your apparatus that makes the most use of your available space. Such a system may include features like:

  • Tool storage racks that can be configured to either pull out or swing out.
  • Rugged construction.
  • Stainless steel tool holders.
  • Exterior safety lights that come on automatically when the tool storage unit is in use.

GearGrid offers tool storage systems in both pull-out and swing-out configurations that feature the same durable finish as their turnout gear storage lockers. They also offer a selection of five stainless steel tool holders:

  • Flathead axe holder
  • Pick head axe holder
  • Maul head holder
  • D-Handle holder
  • Secure tool holder

These options give your people the flexibility to mount their tools according to their specific needs.

5. General station storage needs

What fire station doesn’t need more storage? Who has enough hands for gathering and carrying all the cleaning supplies, sponges, brushes, etc. that are necessary for cleaning the apparatus, or a way to keep mops, brooms and other building maintenance tools organized and accessible?

Rather than tucking these tools away in a closet, look for options that extend their useful lives and make it easier to access them when you need them. For example, GearGrid offers several options to address common station storage and vehicle maintenance issues, such as the Vehicle Detail Center that enables you to keep your wash, maintenance and cleaning materials in one convenient location and wheel them anywhere they are needed, inside or outside the fire station.

About the Author

Batt. Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Contact Robert at