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Tips & Tricks Part 1: Fire Stations

This article is the first in a new series focusing on tips and tricks for each feature type. Some feature types such as cemeteries have ample coverage in newsletter articles while others not so much. 

We publish tips and tricks for specific features when we kick off a mapping challenge, but since not everyone participates in challenges, we thought we’d put these tips and tricks in the newsletter to make them more accessible. For those that have been participating in challenges for a while, you may find this information somewhat familiar.  

In preparation for our transition to challenges focusing on no-edit-history points, we’re kicking off this series with fire stations, since these features make up a significant portion of points with no edit history.



A fire station is a building that houses fire response equipment and to which fire personnel report before being dispatched into the community. Note that this does not include structures used solely for administrative, training, and/or storage purposes. If you encounter a point representing any of these features that we are not collecting, please document your findings in the ‘Comment’ field and delete the point. See our structures definitions for more on this feature type. 



Sources for fire departments range from city websites to social media. Fire departments operated by government agencies are often listed on the agency’s website under ‘Departments’ or ‘Services.’ Fire departments may also use Facebook or other social media platforms to create their own website. See the newsletter article titled Social Media as an Authoritative Source (July 2020) for more on when these sites may be used to update points. 

Sometimes you’ll search and search and search but the only things that come up for a station are what’s considered a secondary or aggregate, source. We always tell volunteers to exercise caution when using information from secondary sources since information on these sources is often outdated or inaccurate. If you must rely on secondary sources, cross-reference it with multiple sources before updating points. See the newsletter article titled as a Source for Fire Stations (January 2022) for more on when these sites may be used to update points. 



When naming fire stations, we always tell volunteers to use the name that the station identifies with. This can be found on the station’s website or roadside signage. If a station uses multiple variants of a name, use the one most frequently referenced. Another best practice is to use the name as it is presented with their address on a station’s “Contact Us” page. 

Some fire departments use station numbers while others do not. Only include a station number if one is listed on the station’s website or roadside signage. Do not add station numbers that are listed only on secondary or aggregate websites. 



Whichever naming convention fire departments use, if a particular fire station is one of many operated by the same department, we encourage volunteers to check all the other stations in the series and to update their names so that the naming convention is consistent among all of them. See the “Naming Consistency” section on page 1 of the Name and Address Formatting Guide