This article was written by Frumentarius, a former Navy SEAL, former CIA officer, and currently a Lieutenant in a career fire department in the Midwest. It was originally published on Sandboxx.

A dual-company fire station in a typical American city of 160,000 is fully-staffed 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It includes two fire companies — a fire engine (pumper) with a crew of 3-4 and a ladder truck also with a crew of 3-4, for example. It might also house a Battalion Chief and an Air Van operator who provides the bottles of compressed air that firefighters rely on to survive in a smoke-filled environment.

In other words, the station has anywhere from 8-10 personnel present there at all times. In normal times, the crews there are not only busy each day running calls, hosting community events in the public community room, giving station tours, putting up smoke alarms in the community, and training; they also have a regular stream of visitors to the station that includes family members, citizens stopping in with problems, issues, or just to say “thank you” and to give the crews some homemade baked goods.