[Tagging] emergency=ambulance_station vs amenity=fire_station

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Sun Nov 10 16:53:33 UTC 2019

Jan Michel <jan at mueschelsoft.de> writes:

> On 10.11.19 13:51, Dave F via Tagging wrote:
>> Hi
>> Simple question (which I presume has been previously discussed) :
>> Why the different key tags to describe what are essentially
>> synonymous entities?
> One of them takes care to put out fires, the other transports you to
> hospital. There are regions where the two are mostly combined, but in
> other places these are completly separate organizations.
> E.g. in Germany they are mostly combined in the larger cities, but
> usually separated in smaller towns. That's related to having
> professional fire fighters and stations that are always manned
> compared to volunteers who have to gather first.

The sometimes-together sometimes-separate notion is also true in the US.

Typically, a Fire Department (sometimes called Fire Rescue) will also
operate ambulances.  Often these are painted like fire trucks, and the
staff are qualified as both firefighters and EMTs, employed as
firefighers, and in the IAFF/etc.  Almost always the station that houses
an ambulance has other fire equipment and thus these are "fire
stations".  These ambulances operate on the FD radio frequencies and are
dispatched as fire units.

Sometimes, these ambulances are Advanced Life Support (ALS), also called
paramedics.  When operated by fire departments, staff are typically both
firefighers and EMT-P.

Fairly typically, there are separate non-transporting paramedic units,
basically 2 EMT-Ps with gear in an SUV.  These are often not operated by
fire departments, and the people are EMT-P but usually not trained as
firefighters (unless they have one job with a FD and one with an
ambulance company, not so unusual).

In some towns, the fire department does fire fighting and "heavy
rescue"/"technical rescue" but not ambulances and they arrange with
ambulance companies for ambulance and paramedic services.

Not that you brought this up, but there are also fire department units
called "Rescue" that are big trucks with specialized equipment for
jacking up cars to get people out from under them, cutting them out of
cars, ropes for high places, confined space rescue, etc.

In some places, and in my experience this is in larger cities only (e.g,
Boston), there is a separate "Emergency Medical Services" department
which staffs ambulances and paramedic units.  In NYC, it's a separate
part of the fire department.  The staff are not firefighters and wear
different uniforms.  In Worcester, it's run by a university-associated
hospital and acts like a city EMS department but technically is
contracted.  The place where those ambulances are staged would not be
called "fire station".

So I agree these tags should be kept separate.  As for emergency= and
amenity=, that's a historical artifact and doesn't matter.

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