The importance of fire halls as a meeting/performance/party/funeral/wedding/fundraiser/bingo playing/drinking space cannot be overstated. Many fire halls have been constructed for this specific purpose; much like the room where Methodists have cookies and donuts after Sunday services. The scale, versatility and ability to make copious amounts of Italian sausage and stuffed shells make the fire hall perfect for any occasion.
Going to the fire hall is a rite of passage for developing Yinzers (Youngzers), and their first exposure is usually at a fundraiser. Fundraisers can take many forms: a night at the races, money bashes, carnivals or games of chance. Yinzers hope to win vast amounts of money at these events, but the fact that most firefighters are volunteers allows them to feel secure in the knowledge that their potential losses will go to purchasing critical fire hall infrastructure, such as a new four-beer tap system. Ideally, the Youngzer is provided the full scale of the fire hall experience, which requires there to be enough second-hand smoke for the child to develop advanced-stage lung cancer before 10:30 p.m. that evening.
Despite the near-orgasmic love Yinzers have for fundraisers, fire halls are at their best when used for weddings. There is no greater joy for Yinzer parents than standing next to the cookie table watching their children enter the reception wearing black and gold, waving terrible towels, and blasting Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!. Funeral wakes are also popular events to host at a fire hall; it is amazing how pink and red carnations bring out the true beauty of 1970’s-era wood paneling.
In Yinzer circles, it’s really not a big event unless is happening at a fire hall, except for tailgaiting at Steelers/Pirates/Penguins games or at Ozzy Osbourne or Def Leppard concerts. In fact, events are so frequent at fire halls that the fire equipment is actually kept outside, for fear that an event might break out at any time. While most people would consider this to defeat the purpose of having a building to protect a piece of critical safety infrastructure, Yinzers see the world a bit differently.
If you ever encounter a Yinzer talking about an event that has happened at a fire hall, nod approvingly. In fact, ask at which volunteer fire company the event took place and if the Yinzer happens to know the Fire Chief. While you might not actually care, you will have a friend for life, and might score an Iron City beer out of the interaction.