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11 super-cool fire stations

By: Matt Hickman on April 5, 2016, 1:15 p.m.
A fireboat in Venice

Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/flickr

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Vigili del Fuoco, Venice, Italy

In addition to acting as a dormitory for highly heroic individuals, the main function of a traditional fire station, of course, is that of an oversized garage that houses fire engines and other emergency vehicles. But what about a working fire station that's completely without fire engines? It's kind of hard to register, right?

Not in an ancient, lagoon-bound city where a labyrinthine network of canals stand in place of roads and where the easiest way to get around is by hoofing it or hopping on vaporetto — the public water bus. Welcome to the Vigili del Fuoco of Venice, Italy, where a fleet of specialized fireboats perform pretty much the same function as traditional fire engines. Located on Rio di Ca' Focari, Venice's main fire station is easy to spot — just look for the bright red vessels coming and going from a series of vaulted slips housed beneath an imposing 1930s-era structure. While a city completely devoid of fire engines is certainly novel, keep in mind that everything in Venice is done by boat. Garbage trucks, ambulances, hearses, mail and delivery vehicles — there's not a single wheel involved between any of them. And while Venice's fire station is certainly unique, the day-to-day duties of Venice's bravest are rather standard: extinguishing blazes (Venice has had its share of large ones in the past), coming to the rescue of in-distress boaters and helping little old ladies fetch their cats from trees.