When I joined my volunteer fire company in the 70s, our county would number stations as they were placed into service in numeral order. Apparatus used the station number and a numbering system for engines and ambulances. Engines were 1 to 6, ambulances 7 to 9. Trucks, squads and anything special  went by the station number. Engine 11 , Ambulance 19  Truck 1. Second units would be Engine 12 Ambulance 18. 

Now our county is part of a council of governments outside Washington DC and in the past few years adopted a number system for the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia.

Our county was given the number 8. So now units use the number 8 and station number to id the units.

So you have Engine 801, Truck 801 and ambulance 801.  If you have more than one engine or other unit the letter B has to be added to that unit. Engine 805B Ambulance 849B.

If the main unit goes OOS then the second engine has to use B id, plus the communication center also knows what units are in service in the stations.

I just wonder how other depts. use their number system for their operations.

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In our county it varies from department to department, although a common element is that the station number is included in the first portion of the apparatus unit number. For instance, our station number is 52, so our vehicles start with what type of truck it is, the station number (52),  and end with two other digits. An example would be our brush truck which is identified as Brush 5230. Each individual firefighter and fire officer is also assigned a unit number. The chief is 5201, assistant chief is 5202, and so on. 

From northern Illinois, our MABAS Division is 3.  We have 17 departments in our division using station ID's as company numbers.  So for example, station 1 (North Maine FPD) has Engine 1, Ambo 1, Battalion 1 as frontline rigs.  The reserve or spare rigs are Engine 1R, Ambo 1R etc.  We use the "R" to signify a reserve rig.  We do not have any departments that have stations w/ 2 frontline engines or ambo's etc.


If a reserve rig goes into service (as a frontline status) it assumes that fronline companies radio signature or Engine 1, or Truck 37 etc.  We drop the "R" at that time.  The alarm office will make note when a company is running in a reserve rig (which applies to radio ID's and MDC usage).


The only time we will use the "R" in the radio transmission is if there has been a recall of off duty guys and that specific department is running 2 of the same type apparatus due to an unusual circumstance.

We serve four counties. Two of the counties specify how they want apparatus numbered. Unfortunately, their identification requirements are different. This creates some confusion. We are Station 30. In one county our frontline engine is E39. In another the same engine is E230. The brush trucks get even trickier. Brush 30 remains B30. B35 in one county is B230 in another county and B36 is B330. Frankly, I greatly prefer the later of the two systems, which designates everything with the same last two digits, the same number as that of the station.

I'm in your council of governments so you already know ours.  We are the lucky ones who don't need to add anything being in the city.  So we just call everything as is.  Engine 23 is just Engine 23.  Truck 15 is Truck 15. Rescue 2 is Rescue 2.  

Mutual Aid depends on what counties or city are called in our area. If its a council of government county or city the first number id of that department responding and the their station number. We not have counties that are not part of the council, so are dispatch using the county name and their station number.

Years ago mutual stations were given what would be our county numbers. They had radios on our channels in their apparatus so they had ours and theirs which was the same for our border stations having their county radios in ours.

This has changed since most of the counties are now using trunk 700 to 800 radios so all that's required is to push buttons and program channels. A lot of talk has been cut out with buttons that tell communications number of crew and what the unit is doing.

our numbering system is just like yours use to be and it works well

Our county all the departments are in numerical order in when they came into service. We are station 14. Our trucks go by that number as well.  Chief's 140-1401-1402 pumpers 141-142,rescue 145, tanker 146, squad 148. Fire control doesn't dispatch by station number though. They will dispatch DeRuyter fire-Cazenovia fire ect.  

Our county was numbered by in order of who adopted the fire frequency. For example we were third thus all of our units are in the 30s.

Our station numbers grew out of the old Motorola tone board at the 911 center. Each department was given two tones that activated their siren. Each tone required the dispatcher to push a button from 1-10, so which ever two buttons activated your siren was the first two numbers on your apparatus. The third digit was was based on equipment types with:

1  Engine

2  Engine

3 Ladder

4 Squad

5 Brush 

6 Tanker (Tender for the NIMS die hards)

7 undesignated 

8 undesignated

9 Rescue

C Chief

A Assistant Chief

Now since the tone boards don't exist the station numbers have stayed, apparatus is what it is (Engine 11) and officers are 10 and up. 11-10 is chief, 11-11 is assistant chief and so on till the department runs out of radios or officer positions.

We start with our county number, which is 34. Then each town in the county has a number, ours is 7, that number is the first digit of our apparatus/personnel number.
The town number is then followed by two digits signifying what/who it is, giving you a three digit number.

In our system numbers 01-39 are for Personnel, 40-49 are for Command/Chiefs vehicles, 50-59 are Engines, 60-69 are Tankers, 70-79 are Rescues and Brush Rigs, 80-89 are Ambulances, 90-99 are Trucks/Ladders.

So, for my department, my number is 34-715; Engines are 34-751, 34-753, 34-755; Tanker is 34-762, Rescue is 34-775, and Brush rig is 34-773. Make any sense?

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