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In the United States, is firehouse used specifically to refer to the fire station in small town?

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I don't think many people would say there's a formal distinction between a firehouse and a fire station, but you're probably more likely to see "firehouse" used to refer to a station in a small town. The word firehouse has an old-fashioned feel to it, and evokes images of Dalmatians and brass firepoles--both of which are probably present in small town fire stations to a greater degree than big ones these days.

That said, I've been known to say things like "turn left at the intersection after the firehouse" even in a big city, so it's probably as much a matter of affectation or personal preference as anything else.

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AFAIK, "firehouse" is unheard of in Canada, but you might hear "fire hall". –  Karl Knechtel Sep 1 '11 at 0:36

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