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  • Ghost Stations

    I heard the term ghost station today, regarding a volunteer department with no staffing on duty at the station. It caused me to ponder this term. Is a station really a ghost station with no on duty volunteer staffing or is a station a ghost station when it is built and equipped in an area with no volunteers or on duty staffing?

    To me if it is a volunteer station with no on duty staffing, yet there are volunteers that respond, in adequate numbers for a call, then it is not a ghost station. It is simply a volunteer station, like so many across the nation that counts on local responders to come from work, or home, or anywhere else.

    If it is a volunteer station and there are times when absolutely no one, or perhaps one or 2 people, can be counted on to respond then I would say that is a ghost station. The fire department is misrepresenting to the community and their governing board that there is 24/7 fire protection. Sadly too many communities are blissfully ignorant of the true state of their fire departments.

    Finally, I know of fire departments that build stations to meet ISO travel requirements to get a better rating, but have no staffing on duty, or any volunteers to staff the station or respond from that station. To me that clearly is a ghost station. Built to create the illusion of fire protection for insurance rating purposes but in reality offering little or nothing in the way of real fire protection.

    We do ourselves, as the fire service, as well as our communities and citizens we protect, no favor by misrepresenting the true capabilities of the local fire department.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  • #2
    It is an interesting thought. I would agree that just because a station is not staffed that it is not a "ghost station". I also agree that there are many "ghost stations" out there built for some purpose other than being a station to respond from.

    I do think that the key to this is communication between the community and the fire department. If the community does not understand the state of the local fire department there are many issues that will come up.
    1) When the department is in need (manpower, responders, financial, etc.) how will people know there is a need. Worse, without the community understanding where the department is at, when a need is presented, the community may feel there has been misappropriations, embezzlement, or other nefarious things happening. This will further damage the department, even when untrue.
    2) People will expect a level of response that is not possible from the existing department. Loss of property, extended response times, and even service not available can occur .
    3) Municipalities may be in violation of various codes and laws regarding providing for health and safety of the public

    Everyone that is honest with themselves knows that volunteers are fewer than ever and manpower is incredibly difficult to come by. If we cannot be honest with ourselves and with the communities that we serve, there is no hope of making things better.

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    • #3
      I guess I could add to the ghost station a "career" department that staffs a station with one or 2 firefighters and if there is an actual fire counts on mutual aid or call backs to assemble enough firefighters to actually do something effective. In the meantime that one or 2 firefighters that arrive to a working fire with trapped victims are put in an impossible situation. Do they attempt rescues, fight the fire, or wait for help? Knowing full well if they attempt rescues or to fight the fire and something goes wrong they are almost assured severe injury or death because no one is their yet to save them..
      Crazy, but that's how it goes
      Millions of people living as foes
      Maybe it's not too late
      To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

      Comment


      • #4
        I wouldn't equate "Ghost station" to any VFD unless there were NO volunteers.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by johnsb View Post
          I wouldn't equate "Ghost station" to any VFD unless there were NO volunteers.
          I agree with that. But my secondary point regarding both volunteer and career/cpmbination departments is that building stations to meet some ISO travel distance standard but having no career staff assigned or volunteers assigned or anywhere near the station is exactly a ghost station.
          Crazy, but that's how it goes
          Millions of people living as foes
          Maybe it's not too late
          To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

          Comment


          • #6
            I know of a few departments that have done just what you said. They had an area of their coverage a little too far from the station, so a new "station" was built. Most of them it is just storage and a few have a specialized vehicle (think water rescue, confined space, etc.) or trailer (high angle, mass casualty, etc.). There are no fire apparatus, not structural PPE, and no intention of placing any there. They are storage in a location that benefits ISO or just general public optics rather than a functional emergency response station.

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