Fire Station or Firehouse? (the debate continues)
I’ve seen the great debate numerous times over more recent years, do we call it a Firehouse or a Fire Station and thought it was time to chime in with a voice. This one might be off topic from my events and philanthropy, but it supports one of the other “cures” and that is making our fire service better!
As I have grown older I find myself turning more to reading material and references that I scoffed at years ago. For this post I will start by turning to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to give some insight to the debate. I don’t think any of you reading this need the definition of fire, so we will skip past that search and look up “station” and “house,” to get a more clear view.
Station as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has many meanings, but these caught my eye.
- The place or position in which something stands or is assigned to remain.
- The act or manner of standing
- A stopping place
- A place established to provide a public service such as a Fire Station.
House as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary again has many meanings.
- A building in which a family lives
- A structure or shelter in which animals live.
- A building in which something is housed
- A family including ancestors, descendants, and kindred.
- A place of business
Just in going to the reference material alone I think we can identify some clear differences between the two. Station just from the look of a few definitions seems very stoic, static, and not to be honest rather dull. I mean “assigned to remain,” that doesn’t seem very people oriented to me, does it? When I think of the word station I think more business very black and white and it just doesn’t move me as much.
One of the first definitions of “house” contains the word “family,” what can be wrong about that? It goes on to mention a family including ancestors, descendants, and kindred, which as a Brotherhood we indeed fall in line with the definition. On a lighter note, the second definition mentions a structure “in which animals live,” which I am sure many can relate to this at times in the banter, the mess, and the smell.
When I think house I think about things such as family, children, toys, pets, games, fun, food, projects underway, constant traffic, people, and a very dynamic environment that I know embodies my firehouse.
Maybe it is my age showing, maybe it is some salt coming out or perhaps the goal to preserve the fire service and be more traditionalist, or perhaps one just sounds better than the other. In marketing it is all about branding us, brand recognition, and sticking to it in order to push you to the top. Over the years as I have spoken publicly at fire prevention and education events I found it crucial to as a Public Information Officer to utilize that branding not just with names and logos, but with terminology. I strive to replace terms like fire station with firehouse in all my communications and interactions because of that. If we work hard to be the change and encourage the proper words, perhaps it will continue to take hold and spread to others.
As I was in-house last night for a tour it didn’t take long to solidify that we indeed are not a fire station, but a firehouse. The laughter of children…and parents too. Things happening, people learning, the asking of questions, and enjoying time together. It was a family atmosphere, not a forced suit and tie business event that leaves you checking your watch to go are we done yet, but instead “oh my look what time it is.”
Throw open your doors and be active today, remember who we are doing this for! Make it a firehouse and keep your community and people involved year round. The time to be “open” to the public is not just on a response or when your firehouse is going for a levy. Be a family, have a firehouse, make it as open and welcome as grandmas house for a holiday meal.