Pennington: What Makes a Firehouse a Home

After leaving Charleston Station 8, Ryan Pennington reflects on what made this fire station his home.


I just arrived home from my last shift on the west side of Charleston, W.Va., where I have been assigned to Station 8 for the past two years. I sat at home to reflect on serving with some of the finest firefighters I have ever worked with. Two years of fires, medical calls and some special calls for service where our engine was called in to help. Looking back at the crew, the one thing that stands out to this jumpseat riding firefighter is that we were a team. I can honestly say that in the two years of living a third of our lives together we always got along and worked hard for each other. 

Now the time has come to move on to other adventures and a new station, a truck company this time. I can’t help but to share why the members of the fire “station” makes it a fire “house”…a house full of family members that live, fight and build bonds together that would rival many of our home lives. The facts are cohabiting with firefighters is part of what we do. Usually more hours are spent around the station than on calls. It’s this time where we need to be mindful of how we interact with each other.

While in and around the station we should always be looking out for one another. From mopping the floor to taking up the slack for a member who is sick or injured, putting their needs ahead of ours is often hard to do.  How do you always keep someone else in mind when living together?  Thinking back to my time on the west side, our gang just got things done. We stepped up if a task needed to be completed. Not one time did someone say “you need to go mop” or “your truck is filthy.”  Even after two years we just stepped up and did it, no questions asked.

This way of doing things is a great way to have someone help without asking.  If they hear you cleaning up, guess what they will do, come help.  If you are ever in this position, make sure to lend a hand and complete the task together as a team. 

Building this teamwork together inside the station can also be seen on the fireground. Great communication is needed when completing tasks that require more than one firefighter to complete and as you build that teamwork inside the station; you will notice how much it helps when performing these functions.

More than anything, my time at Station 8 taught me how a group of firefighters can become good friends. From the captain to the jumpseat riding firefighters, we all cared for one another. Is that really hard? Sometimes it can be hard for a station to really ‘like” each other.  We all have our quirks and downfalls.  Understanding this and accepting us for who and what we are will allow us to build that bond; a bond that will be forged in fires.  When you are putting your life in the hands of others, wouldn’t you want to put it into the hands of folks who you trust?

I would like to send a huge thank you to my crew from the past two years. Station 8 will always be #jumpseatready