What is a Fire Station/EMS Station?
The basic requirement for a Fire Station/EMS Station is that the structure contains a fire engine. It may or may not also house an ambulance. It probably has fire personnel visiting it on a regular basis to keep the equipment clean and shiny and ready to go.
Where can I find authoritative lists of Fire Stations?
The US Fire Administration has the most complete nationwide list of fire departments. Their list is the result of a voluntary National Fire Department Census wherein during the years 2001 to 2004 fire departments filled out and handed in survey forms. The USFA is "continuously working to encourage more fire departments to participate in the census," however, since the original census now is almost 10 years old, some of the informaiton is out of date. The list can be downloaded for the entire nation or by State. The list is by Fire Department, so it will you tell you how many stations a Fire Department has, but not where they are. There may be some contact information, such as address, phone number, and website.
The Homefacts website has a list of fire departments by city and county (scroll to the bottom of the page to select a State); but the source of this data is unknown and its accuracy varies.
Refer to the State Data Sources section of this website where additional data sources may be listed for each State. County and city websites also often have information about fire departments; and counties often have an Office of Emergency Management where information can be found.
Fire Department web pages are the best source of data, but may not specify the locations of stations. Stations can generally be recognized in Aerial Imagery or in Street View on Google because the stations have large bays with overhead doors and large concrete pads outside where the engines can park.
How do I name a Fire Station?
Try to find out the official name of the station; it often has the format: <fire-department-name> <station-name>. For example "Denver Fire Department Station 1". Official station names sometimes have either a "-" or a "/" in the station name, and while the Attribute Guidelines say that special characters should be avoided, they can be used if necessary to document an official fire station name.
Why are there no authoritative lists of fire/EMS stations?
It seems surprising that there are no authoritative lists of fire/EMS stations, but this is because historically it has been felt that it is more important that they can find you, rather than for you to find them. They can find you through the 911 system. The 911 system generally is maintained at the county level, where 911 calls are routed to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). While you are talking to a 911 operator at a PSAP, various manual and automated systems are used to pinpoint the location of the call, to find the nearest fire/EMS (or police) station, and to get directions for how to drive to the scene of the call.
However in recent years, with the increased interest in the coordination of responses to public emergencies, there is a recognition that databases of emergency response assets are important to the public and to Offices of Emergency Management at all levels of government.
What is a Law Enforcement structure?
Law enforcement structures consist of the offices of state troopers, county sheriff's, and city cops. However, if a county sheriff's deputy works out of his house in a rural area, we do not include that location as a structure point (we never capture private residences as structure points).
Where can I find authoritative lists of Law Enforcement structures?
There are no authoritative lists of Law Enforcement structures.
The closest thing to a national list may be at the USACops website, but it is not clear where this data comes from or how complete it is. There also are lists of police stations at the Homefacts website, but again it is unclear where this data comes from or how complete it is.
The State Data Sources page of this website may have information on lists for your State; in particular, there usually is a State Patrol website which lists the State Patrol troop offices and posts for that State. County and city websites may list law enforcement offices within their boundaries.
How should I name Law Enforcement structures?
County sheriff's offices should be named like this: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Police departments for smaller cities generally have only one office which should be named like this: Lakewood Police Department; but larger cities may have Precinct or Division offices which would be named like this: Denver Police Department District 1 Station (NW).