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Fire Departments

  • By: Thomas E. Poulin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Fire departments are organizations created to provide fire protection. The term is generic, encompassing public, private, and volunteer departments. Regardless of their legal foundation, fire departments are structured in a similar manner, equipped with comparable equipment, and provide nearly identical basic services. While originally created to extinguish fires, modern fire departments engage in myriad services including fire prevention, emergency management, and specialized emergency response customized to meet local demand.

Public fire departments serve local, tribal, or territorial governments, or state or federal agencies. They are funded primarily through tax revenues, often supplemented with grant monies or fees-for-services. Private fire departments are of two types. The first is a for-profit organization, licensed by a state government as a business. These private departments provide fire protection to local ...

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